Canada must revoke the exemption that allowed it to ship a turbine back to Russia after that move failed to restore gas flow to Germany, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada told lawmakers on Thursday.
“The permit was issued with high expectations from the Government of Canada to assist strategic partners in Europe. Since this step has clearly not produced the expected result, we have asked you to review this decision,” Ambassador Yulia Kovaliv said Thursday in the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The permit was revocable and no one wants the other five turbines to repeat the sad story of the current one.”
The Liberal government’s decision to return a Russian turbine was a “very difficult” decision that the government made only after considering alternatives, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said in the committee earlier in the day. The exemption relates to a total of six turbines and is valid for a maximum of two years.
Kovaliv said it is now “more than clear that another five turbines… will be turned into instruments of humiliation by Russia. And we urge you not to fall for the bait.”
In July, Canada decided to return the turbine, which had been in Montreal for repair, despite sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. While Ukraine opposed the return, Germany had pressured Canada to release the turbine. Germany is dependent on Russian gas and the turbine is used in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that supplies Germany with natural gas from Russia.
“I cannot emphasize enough the concern on the part of the Germans, but also on the part of the European Union, regarding the possible implications of not having access to natural gas,” he said. Jonathan Wilkinson, Secretary of Natural Resources. the committee said.
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He said: “You have to be able to explain to the Germans, the French and the Italians how they will survive the winter.”
But the return of the turbine has not solved the problem. The turbine is now stuck in Germany, with Russia blaming Western sanctions for the delay, while Germany says nothing stands in the way of its return. Russia has also reduced gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20 percent of capacity.
Joly reiterated on Thursday that steering the turbine called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “bluff”.
“Now that the turbine maintenance issue has been taken off the table, Putin has nothing to hide behind. If the gas flow slows down, the world now knows with certainty that it was Putin’s decision and his alone,” Joly said.
Those statements were echoed by German ambassador Sabine Sparwasser, who told the commission that “we didn’t want to fall into Putin’s trap” after he “pretended” the missing turbines were to blame.
She said Russia is now “finding more and more pretexts not to take back the turbines”.
“Now it is clear to everyone that Russia is using energy to put pressure on Europe. It’s trying to turn one ally against another,” Sparwasser said.
She said if the turbine had not been returned, it would have given Putin a “strong argument in the war of disinformation” that “we have paid the lack of gas on ourselves”.
Wilkinson said the government was examining an alternative proposal from Ukraine for a pipeline route through that country, but decided it was not feasible.
He said the government had consulted with the EU and Germany and with “technical experts from the International Energy Agency” and ultimately concluded that it was not “viable” for technical reasons, but also because the plan would depend on of Russia’s willingness to provide gas for the alternative pipeline. “The chances of Russia doing this are slim,” he said.