Leaders of eight European Union countries, including the Baltic states, have sent a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker criticizing plans for Nord Stream 2, a second underwater gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
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The letter has been signed by the Lithuanian president and the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

Nord Stream 2 pipeline underneath the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany is a geopolitical project aimed at disadvantaging Ukraine and dividing Europe, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said about the project.

"It is highly regrettable that some of our larger EU partners are trying to argue that this is just a private commercial project. It is absolutely clear to all of us that energy projects of this scale are geopolitical and their goals are geopolitical," Grybauskaitė told LRT Radio on Thursday.

"This is why eight leaders, including myself, have signed a letter saying that the European Commission cannot ignore and turn a blind eye on continuing large-scale attempts to divide Europe and push it back to dependence on a single source, that is, Russian energy."

The existing Nord Stream pipeline is operating at just over 50% of its capacity, which only proves that plans to construct a second pipeline are based on political rather than economic considerations, the Lithuanian president argues.

"Nord Stream 1 is operating at slightly more than 50%, which raises a lot of questions. Practically, half of its capacity is not used. So what is the purpose of having a Nord Stream 2? First, to bypass Ukraine so that it is no longer a transit country and things are even more difficult for it. What we see is a purely politicized project directed against Ukraine and some eastern EU countries. Also, there is apparently a divide and rule policy or a divide and influence policy," she said.

The Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European companies last year signed an agreement on a joint venture, named New European Pipeline, for a €10-billion expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline. The plan is to build two additional strings of Nord Stream by late 2019 to double the pipeline's annual throughput to 110 billion cubic meters.

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