“It was not pursued by the state. It was pursued by companies, and it had economic advantages because that’s what companies like,” she said.
U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette pushed back on that claim. The Russian partner Gazprom is state-controlled and initiated the project on behalf of Moscow, he said.
“This is not purely a private project for the development of energy,” he said. “And so what are the motives for doing that? If it’s a government driven exercise, you have to look at… geopolitics and the particular governments involved.”
Russia’s motives for building Nord Stream 2 and another pipeline called Turkstream are clear, according to Amos Hochstein, a former special envoy for international energy under President Barack Obama who now sits on the supervisory board for Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz. Moscow wants to circumvent the Ukrainian pipeline system, depriving its regional rival of valuable transit fees and making it easier for the Kremlin to pressure its neighbors.
“If you have a piece of infrastructure that works, you rarely see somebody saying, ‘Hey, it works. Let’s go and finance billions of dollars worth of a different piece of infrastructure to accomplish a very similar goal, which is to get a molecule of gas from Russia into Europe,'” Hochstein said during a separate panel on Wednesday.
“So that is what’s on the table at the moment, a non-commercial project that serves a political goal.”