Germany halts Nord Stream 2 pipeline over Russia’s Ukraine incursion, but other sanctions still in doubt – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – February 22, 2022)

Europe’s big unity tests began today, only hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognized the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and poured his “peacekeeper” soldiers into those areas.

Within minutes of the formal takeover of Donetsk and Luhansk, the United States and various European countries threatened to hit Russia with immediate sanctions. This was predictable. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the sanctions came fast and some are still in place.

But the extent and intensity of the new sanctions are hard to predict. By rights, they should be at Crimea-level times 10, since Moscow’s recognition of the two separatist regions was a clear violation of international law and may be a prelude to a wider war. UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News Tuesday morning “that you can conclude the invasion of Ukraine has begun.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz removed some doubt about the sanctions package on Tuesday, when he said he had stopped the certification of the new Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that goes from Russia to northern Germany.

For the rest of this column: