Ottawa’s deal to allow Russian-owned turbines to be repaired covers longer period than previously disclosed, sources say

Pipes at the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline landing facilities in Lubmin, Germany, on March 8, 2022. The Canadian government’s agreement allows the company to send turbines from Nord Stream 1 to Siemens Canada facilities in Montreal to regular repairs and maintenance.HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/Reuters

The Canadian government’s agreement to allow the repair of Russian-owned wind turbines covers a period of up to two years and would allow the import and re-export of up to six units – a much broader and more continuous agreement than the one that had previously been disclosed. .

Two government officials confirmed to The Globe and Mail on Tuesday that Global Affairs had granted German industrial giant Siemens Energy an exemption under Canada’s sanctions against Russia for two years. This allows the company to send turbines from Nord Stream 1, a pipeline majority-owned by Russian state Gazprom, to Siemens Canada facilities in Montreal for regular repairs and maintenance.

One of the officials, however, pointed out that the arrangement with Siemens allows the Canadian government to revoke sanctions relief permits at any time. The Globe and Mail does not identify the officials who were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Last month, Russia cited the late return of turbine equipment, which German firm Siemens Energy had serviced in Canada, as the reason for its decision to cut the flow of natural gas through the Northern Gas Pipeline. Stream 1. The pipeline, which connects Russia to Germany and is majority owned by Gazprom, a Russian state-controlled company, was operating at 40% capacity.

Separately, on Tuesday, the Ukrainian World Congress, a Ukrainian community advocacy group headquartered in Toronto, filed a legal challenge to the Canadian government’s decision in the Federal Court of Canada. The application for judicial review of the permit to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Russia asks the court to suspend and ultimately cancel the permit authorizing the import and re-export of the six turbines. The permit is “unreasonable, unjustifiable and contrary to the stated objective of Canada’s sanctions regime,” the legal request said.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada Yulia Kovaliv has expressed disappointment that Canada has granted Gazprom a special two-year deal to avoid Canadian sanctions. “Gas and oil revenues directly support the Russian military. To give up even for two years and show that Gazprom can get what it wants is a dangerous precedent,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “They are imposing the status quo on militarizing energy.”

The Trudeau government and Germany initially said there was only one turbine involved. On Sunday, Keean Nembhard, press secretary to Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, revealed there were six.

One of the turbines, stuck in Montreal due to Gazprom sanctions, is now being sent back to Europe, while the other five Gazprom turbines will be sent to Siemens Canada over the next two years for regular maintenance. Siemens Canada will send the turbine equipment to Germany, whose government will then hand it over to Russia. The route of indirect return could allow Canada to say that it has not reneged on its sanctions.

Siemens Energy spokeswoman Ann Adair said the company had no comment on the two-year deal. Adrien Blanchard, press secretary to Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, neither confirmed nor denied the two-year deadline, but said “these turbines are on a regular maintenance schedule that has been interrupted due to sanctions. “.

“The maintenance program is now restarting for a limited period. However, the minister could revoke the permit at any time,” Blanchard said in a statement.

The Ukrainian government has said Russia’s demand for the return of turbine equipment to resume a higher volume of gas deliveries to Europe amounted to blackmail and unconventional warfare tactics. Returning to high gear, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that it was an “absolutely unacceptable exception to the sanctions regime against Russia”.

Zelensky argued that Canada’s sanctions exception could undermine Western efforts to isolate Moscow and could open the door for other Western allies to ease its sanctions on the Kremlin for economic gain.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), an advocacy group for Ukrainian Canadians, said Canada’s lengthy arrangement to allow the import and export of Nord Stream turbines over a few years goes against of the idea that Europe is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas. Instead, UCC National President Alexandra Chyczij said Moscow would be able to reap years of extra profits from gas sales to Europe, money that helps fund its machine. of war in Ukraine.

“This is a deadly and far-reaching precedent. We urge Prime Minister Trudeau to immediately rescind this permit and end Russia’s genocide of the Ukrainian people,” Chyczij said.

“The special permit issued by the Government of Canada to exempt the Gazprom and Nord Stream 1 turbines from Canadian sanctions is much more extensive than necessary to allow Germany to supplement its energy reserves for the winter. This permit indeed facilitates the continued operation of Nord Stream 1 for a period of two years and does not correspond to Germany’s declared intention to wean itself off Russian energy supplies.

Clifford Sosnow, co-chairman of Fasken’s international trade and investment group, says Russian President Vladimir Putin won a tactical victory after Canada agreed to repair and return the turbines to a Russian company despite sanctions against Gazprom. But, he said, Mr Putin was ultimately denied a strategic victory because Canada’s decision to repair and return the turbines – as Germany had demanded – means a rift between NATO allies was avoided. He said the Biden administration’s extraordinary decision to publicly support Canada’s decision underscores the importance of maintaining solidarity among NATO allies.

Conservative Foreign Affairs Critic Michael Chong called the lengthy sanctions permit for the import and re-export of the turbines a “significant circumvention of the global sanctions package designed to punish and isolate the Putin regime. , and a decision that undermines Canada’s standing in the world.” He said Canada’s lack of effort to deliver liquefied natural gas to Europe is part of what left Europeans scrambling for energy in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“The Liberal government should never have put Canada in a situation where exporting these turbines was an option in the first place. The fact is that the Liberals’ anti-energy policies have canceled and discouraged projects that would have allowed Canada to export liquefied natural gas to our European allies, including Germany,” Chong said.

“The most important thing the Liberal government can do now to help Germany and the rest of Europe is not to exploit the loopholes in our sanctions regime, but to speed up the construction of new energy infrastructure. that would allow the export of Canadian liquefied natural gas to our European allies, enhancing their energy security while ending funding for Putin’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under intense pressure from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who raised the issue of turbines with him at the G7 summit in late June. Mr. Scholz is planning a trade visit to Canada on August 22-23 to push for the construction of liquefied natural gas export facilities on Canada’s east coast.

With files from Reuters and Associated Press

Leave a Comment