SNP urges pipeline battle to hit back at Russia

The Nord Stream 2 project seeks to double the capacity of a pipeline that links Russia with Germany. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The Nord Stream 2 project seeks to double the capacity of a pipeline that links Russia with Germany. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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The UK government should hit back at Russia over the Salisbury poison attack by mounting a diplomatic campaign against a huge gas pipeline development in the Baltic Sea, the SNP has said.

The Nord Stream 2 project seeks to double the capacity of an existing pipeline that links Russia with Germany and the rest of Europe, bypassing other gas export routes via Ukraine.

When completed, Russia would be able to export 110 billion cubic metres of gas a year – about a quarter of Europe’s consumption.

Critics argue that would increase the continent’s energy reliance on Moscow while further isolating Ukraine from the international community. The US energy secretary Rick Perry last week called the 746-mile pipeline a tool for “influence and disruption”.

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the government shares US concerns, but “as an ally of Germany we have expressed those concerns in private”.

Theresa May revealed on Wednesday that two Russians charged with attempted murder in connection with the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are believed to be serving military intelligence agents.

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald has written to the Prime Minister, calling on her to rally international opposition to the project.

“I am urging you, as I and other SNP colleagues have in the past, to lead efforts that would bring an international diplomatic coalition together against the Nord Stream 2 project and see it halted,” McDonald writes.

“Several European states and the US have voiced concerns over the Nord Stream 2 project, saying that it poses certain risks for energy security in the region of central and eastern Europe.”

He adds: “I believe a UK-led diplomatic coalition against the project is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate response to the Salisbury attack, complementing other diplomatic and financial sanctions.”