Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the Canadian government for its decision to return to Germany for natural gas turbines that have become entangled in sanctions imposed on Russia. He calls the move “absolutely unacceptable” and warns that Moscow will see it as a sign of weakness.
Secretary of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson announced on Saturday that the turbines will make their way back to Germany after the Canadian government grants what it called a “time-limited and revocable” exemption from current sanctions against Russia. The move came as Canada imposed new sanctions on Russian agents and entities in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
But Zelensky was not happy with the decision.
“If a terrorist state can squeeze such an exception to sanctions, what exceptions does it want tomorrow or the day after? This question is very dangerous,” Zelensky said in his overnight address on Monday.
“Moreover, it is dangerous not only for Ukraine, but also for all countries of the democratic world.”
Zelensky called on the Canadian government to reverse the decision.
“Of course, this decision on one turbine, which leads to many other problems, is still subject to review,” he said. “Russia has never played by the rules in the energy sector and will not play now unless it sees strength.”
In an interview with CBCs Power & Politics, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Yulia Kovaliv, said Ukraine will continue to discuss the matter with the Canadian government in the coming weeks.
WATCH † Canada sets ‘dangerous precedent’ by releasing turbines: Ukraine
“We appreciate a lot of support that the Canadian government has given Ukraine in various areas, and we still hope that this decision will be revoked,” she told guest host Paul Hunter.
Kovaliv said revenues from the pipeline will contribute to the bloodshed in Ukraine.
“Russia uses energy as a weapon, in Europe and around the world,” Kovalev said.
“This money and this fuel will support the war in Ukraine… we must stay united, all together, to maintain this unity in the sanctions and not waver.”
Minister of Natural Resources defends decision
Wilkinson says the decision was necessary and German livelihoods are at risk.
In prepared remarks for a news conference in Regina on Monday, Wilkinson said Russia’s war on Ukraine and the ensuing geopolitical tensions have shown Europe’s energy vulnerability.
“The energy security implications for Europe in particular are potentially devastating,” Wilkinson said.
“This is not just a matter of inconvenience, or even a bottleneck in terms of affordability and wallet. This is a fundamental threat to their ability to provide basic needs for their citizens, from heat for their homes to fuel for food and goods. and power to support their industries, their jobs and their economies.”
In a statement released on Twitter on Saturday, Wilkinson said the decision to return the turbines came after consultations with the German government and other European allies.
“In the absence of natural gas supplies, the German economy will suffer great hardship and the Germans themselves risk not being able to heat their homes as winter approaches,” he said in the statement.
The turbines have been in Montreal for repairs, but Siemens — the German company that manufactured them — said last month that Canadian government sanctions against Russian energy company Gazprom prevented it from returning them to Europe.
The Nord Stream One pipeline supplies natural gas to Germany from Russia. The Russian government says the pipeline is currently running at only 40 percent of its capacity.
Wilkinson said Monday that Canada is working to find ways to supply Canadian liquefied natural gas and other commodities such as hydrogen, potassium and uranium to Europe.
He said Canada can strike a balance between boosting energy exports to Europe and meeting its greenhouse gas emissions targets.
“We can help our European friends in the short term and we can achieve our ambitious and vital climate goals,” he said.
Reaction to move mixed
The United States government welcomed Canada’s decision to release the turbines to Germany.
“In the short term, the turbine will enable Germany and other European countries to replenish their gas reserves, increase their energy security and resilience, and counter Russia’s energy arming efforts,” the US State Department spokesman said. Affairs, Ned Price, in a media statement Monday.
The US supports Canada’s decision to return a turbine to Germany to counter Russia’s energy-arming efforts. We are grateful for the partnership with Canada and Germany to hold President Putin accountable for his unjustified war against Ukraine. https://t.co/qTkhb9uasX
But a Ukrainian-Canadian advocacy group voiced opposition.
Alexandra Chyczij, president of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, said returning the turbines would amount to a “decision to bend to Russian blackmail”.
“This decision will ensure that the treasury of the Russian state budget will remain filled with European money that will be used to finance the Russian genocide against the Ukrainian people,” Chyczij said in a media statement on Sunday.
In another media statement, also released on Sunday, Ukraine’s foreign and energy ministries expressed “deep disappointment” at Canada’s decision.
“This dangerous precedent violates international solidarity, goes against the rule of law and will have only one consequence: it will reinforce the feeling of impunity in Moscow,” the statement said.
VIEW | Canada returns important turbine to Germany for Russian pipeline:
The Conservative Party also criticized the move, calling on the government to replace Russian energy in Europe with Canadian resources.
“Instead of circumventing the global sanctions package designed to punish Putin, the Liberal government should approve new liquefied natural gas pipelines and terminals so Canadian natural gas can displace Russian energy supplies in Europe,” Conservative MPs Michael Chong said. James Bexan and Pierre Paul. Hus said in a statement on Sunday.