Ukraine asks Canada to cancel turbine exemption as German chancellor visits – National

Ukraine asks Canada to cancel turbine exemption as German chancellor visits - National

As German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives in Canada on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces renewed calls from Ukraine to revoke a permit allowing turbines repaired in Montreal to be returned to a Russian energy giant.

Scholz, who took over from Angela Merkel last December, is expected to land in Montreal on Sunday evening for a three-day visit with scheduled stops in Toronto and Stephenville, NL.

He will be joined by Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is responsible for the country’s energy file.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said the visit will further shared priorities between Canada and Germany, “including our continued support for Ukraine, protecting peace and security in Europe and around the world, and addressing of the wider global repercussions of the illegal and unwarranted invasion of Russia.”

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Ukraine has criticized Trudeau and his government for the decision last month to agree to a request from Germany to exempt Siemens Canada from sanctions against Russia so it can return a turbine for use in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that supplies natural gas. to Germany.

The turbine had been under repair at Siemens’ factory in Montreal, the only site in the world capable of servicing the equipment. It was delivered to Germany and was supposed to go to Russia from there, but the Russian authorities have so far refused it.

Russia has also cut gas flow in the pipeline to 20 percent of capacity and recently announced it would shut down the line completely for three days at the end of the month, citing the need for unscheduled maintenance.

Canada’s license also allows Siemens to import, repair and return five other turbines used in Nord Stream 1, according to their maintenance schedule, and is valid until the end of 2024.

In an interview, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Yulia Kovaliv, again called for the waiver to be canceled.

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She said it is clear that Russia will not accept the turbine Siemens supplied to Germany, and accused Russia of using gas supplies as a way to terrorize Europe.

“Our position is quite clear: we think this waiver should be canceled and now,” she said.

“If it was an argument to call Putin’s bluff, everyone sees in recent weeks that it’s pretty clear now that it’s Russian games.”

Orest Zakydalsky of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress said the chancellor’s visit will be “an opportunity for them to roll back the policy and revoke the permit”.

Ministers have defended the move as necessary to secure gas supplies for Germany and to bluff Putin. They allege that the Kremlin used Canada’s refusal to return the turbine to impose sanctions for energy shortages in Europe, which could undermine public support for Ukraine.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in an interview that Canada will continue to “assess” its decision to return the turbine to Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant that operates Nord Stream 1.

“It was clearly a difficult decision and it was one that we made on the basis that we believe not returning the turbine would have given Putin an excuse,” he said.

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“It may have had the effect of undermining the support Ukraine enjoys from some of the European populations.”

Wilkinson said he now feels that Russia’s position has been exposed and that there is mounting pressure on Gazprom and the Russian government.

“Our expectation and hope is that the turbine will actually go back to Gazprom and eventually be commissioned.”

He added that the government stands by its decision and believes it is far too early to think about changing the exemption, but said “we will have to see what evolves in the coming months.”

“We will of course continue to engage in dialogue with our European partners and our German partners,” he said.

Scholz and Trudeau plan to discuss energy security and the transition to clean energy, “including through secure access to key resources such as clean hydrogen and critical minerals,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

In Stephenville, leaders are expected to sign a pact that sets aggressive timelines and targets for hydrogen exports to Germany, though some experts warn that the deal will be only a small, distant and expensive part of the solution to Europe’s energy crisis. to be. .

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A consortium of four partners calling itself World Energy GH2 plans to build a zero-emission plant in the Newfoundland community that will use wind energy to produce hydrogen and ammonia for export.

If approved, the project would be the first of its kind in Canada.

The consortium has said that in the first phase of the proposal, up to 164 onshore wind turbines are to be built to power a hydrogen production facility in a deep-sea port. Long-term plans call for a tripling of the project size.

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