German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday that Russia has no reason to delay the return of a gas turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which was repaired in Canada but is now trapped in Germany due to an increasing energy dispute.
On a manufacturing visit to Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) in Muelheim a der Ruhr, Scholz said the turbine was completely functioning and could be delivered back to Russia at any moment if Moscow was prepared to accept it.
The fate of the 12 metre (13 yard) long turbine has been widely scrutinized as European nations accused Russia of limiting gas supply under false pretenses in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed during the February incursion of Ukraine.
Moscow rejects this, citing turbine difficulties as the cause for reduced gas flows via Nord Stream 1, which have been reduced to 20% of capacity.
On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reacted angrily to Scholz’s statements, blaming a lack of paperwork for the turbine’s delay in returning to Russia.
He also floated the idea of Europe obtaining gas through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a Moscow-led project that was stymied by the West when Russia committed soldiers into Ukraine.
The turbine’s movements were shrouded in mystery until Tuesday evening, when the chancellor’s visit to Siemens Energy was publicized.
“The turbine works,” Scholz stated to reporters, adding that the purpose of his visit was to demonstrate to the world that the turbine operated and that “there was nothing mystical to observe here”
“It’s quite clear and simple: the turbine is there and can be delivered, but someone needs to say ‘I want to have it'”
Even if Russia returned the turbine, Scholz cautioned that Germany may suffer more difficulties and that supply contracts would not be honored.
He also said that it “can make sense” for Germany to keep its three remaining nuclear power reactors operational beyond their scheduled closure at the end of 2022, a policy shift that has gathered traction in light of the prospect of a complete Russian gas cut-off in winter.