As can be seen in this article from Germany, Zelenskyj calls for a gas boycott from Russia. At the same time, there is the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine. So why is Ukraine not stopping that transit, if they don´t want Germany and other European countries to buy Russian gas?

A translation of the main part of the linked article:

KIEV. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the Germans to boycott Russian gas and other goods. "Without trade with you, without your companies and banks, Russia will not have the money for this war," the 44-year-old said in a video message shared on social media on Monday. Nobody has the right to destroy peoples and divide up Europe.

This question is completely different than this one, it is in context of the request made by Zelenskyj and described in the article. It is not about speculative possibility of Ukraine stopping the transit.

Just as update Nord Stream I is also out of question now.

  • 1
    It still appears as if the answer from the other question would answer this.
    – Joe W
    Mar 23, 2022 at 13:28
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    @Joe W Not really, but posibly because I was not really able to explain the exact concern. So to sumarize the question, is why Ukraine helping european countries to buy russian gas, if they don´t want them to buy it?
    – convert
    Mar 23, 2022 at 13:37
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    @convert Ukrainian goal was integrating into Europe - if they upset the Europeans, it will mean that their fight against Russia is pretty much pointless (I assume that the loss of the material currently sent by Europe is negligeable compared to what they get from the US). Mar 23, 2022 at 16:25
  • How is that not answered in the previous question about stopping the transport of the oil/gas?
    – Joe W
    Mar 23, 2022 at 16:31
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    @JoeW situation in Ukraine has change this last month. Also, Nord Stream II is out of question now. Mar 23, 2022 at 16:41

5 Answers 5


Apparently the question was reopened because

Nord Stream II is out of question now.

Well, maybe. If Ukraine does something dramatic and blows up the pipelines, NS II could be quickly opened. Its approval process was just suspended, as far as I can tell. The pipeline is fully built.

It's also worth noting that some countries like Hungary already seem to bypass Ukraine more than before by getting more of their Russia gas via the other fairly new pipeline from Turkey (through Bulgaria and Serbia--opened in Jan 2021).

Under the deal, Gazprom would ship 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Hungary annually, allowing the supply of around half of Hungary's annual gas consumption.

Two routes will be used -- 3.5 billion cubic meters will come via Serbia and 1 billion cubic meters via Austria.

Some of these Eastern EU countries like Hungary and Bulgaria did give their half-hearted approval to the EU to send weapons to Ukraine, but they completely ruled out sending any weapons themselves. Hungary even blocks any weapons for Ukraine from even transiting Hungarian territory. If Ukraine does something to annoy these countries even more, Hungary could e.g. start blocking EU decisions on helping Ukraine, which by the way, they used to do with regard to Ukraine's NATO membership.

And probably even Poland, Slovakia, and Romania, which are sending weapons (or at least ammo in Romania's case) to Ukraine, would object to suffering a sudden energy crisis since they still get a sizeable fraction of their natural gas from Russia, via Ukraine.

By the way, according to one analyst, NS2 was supposed to be the "final nail in the coffin" of gas transit through Ukraine, given the other pipelines that Russia has built in the meantime:

the role of Ukraine is smaller today than it was in the late ’90s. There was a time when 90 percent of the gas that comes from Russia to Europe went through Ukraine. Now it’s less than a quarter. So all the stuff people say, like “Nord Stream 2 is going to kill Ukraine and [gas] transit,” like, yes, Nord Stream 2 is the final nail in the coffin of a Ukrainian transit story that has been in demise for 25 years.

According to the same source, cutting EU's gas imports from Russia would hurt the EU more than Russia, because the latter makes relatively little profit from natural gas relative to oil sales. (Although no figures are provided.) Somewhat simplified pipeline supply explanation map, from the Economist:

enter image description here

The EU itself is trying wean off the Russian gas, but...

One of the biggest hurdles to replacing so much gas this year is securing enough LNG.

The [EU] Commission says around 10 bcm of gas imports could come from alternative pipeline suppliers, while 50 bcm would be LNG. That is equivalent to around 10% of annual global LNG supply.

"Obtaining this volume will be difficult: 50 bcm would represent a major additional draw on an already-tight global LNG market and additional demand cannot be met by significant new capacity before the mid-2020s," Jesse Scott at German-based thinktank Agora Energiewende said. [...]

U.S. exporters have shipped record volumes of LNG to Europe for three consecutive months, at prices at least 10 times higher than a year ago.

The cost (for the EU) of entirely replacing the Russian supplies has been estimated at around one hunderd billion euros per year, given current prices.


The decision to purchase gas (or anything else, for that matter) from Russia is viewed typically as a decision that can only be made by each sovereign country that wants to buy the said gas. And, of course, Russia must agree to sell that gas, and the two parties must agree on the price and other specifics, etc.

It is not up to Ukraine or any other third party to break up a business contract such as this. In fact, insufficient energy supplies may create conditions conducive to internal unrest and regime change in the affected countries, and could be viewed as interference in the internal politics of these sovereign countries. Would Ukraine want to play kingmaker in, say, Germany, which supplies Ukraine with aid? Unlikely. Hence, the gas will continue to flow as long as there are gas buyers and gas sellers. All Ukraine can do is ask the German government to stop buying Russian gas (note that German population is mostly sympathetic to Ukraine).

Remember that allegedly or actually committing war crimes is not viewed uniformly as a reason to terminate business contracts with the offending country: Nazi Germany maintained excellent business relationships with many companies from the "civilized" countries, while committing war crimes, which were widely reported in the world mass media.


Germans approve of government U-turn on Ukraine: https://www.dw.com/en/germans-approve-of-government-u-turn-on-ukraine/a-61011528
To drive, or not to drive: Germans rethink love of cars: https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/drive-or-not-drive-germans-rethink-love-cars-2022-03-18/

Hitler's American Business Partners (2003) - A detailed, well-referenced, and chilling look at American multinational corporations who fuelled and profited from the Nazi movement before and during the US involvement in WWII. Including Standard Oil, Texaco, Ford, GM and IBM. [00:48:15]: https://www.reddit.com/r/Documentaries/comments/tk0k15/hitlers_american_business_partners_2003_a/

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    The example with Nazi Germany is a good one, but as far I know there were no business relationships with countries in a state of war with Nazi Germany, like GB after 1940.
    – convert
    Mar 23, 2022 at 22:12
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    "It is not up to Ukraine or any other third party to break up a business contract such as this." Mayne during peacetime, but during wartime, the Russian gas pipelines would be legitimate military targets. All they'd have to do is plant a few bombs or shoot a few anti-tank missiles at them to cause a leak.
    – nick012000
    Mar 24, 2022 at 7:49
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    @TimurShtatland Because they're qt war with Russia, and punishing Russian collaborators is a reasonable war goal, to remove monetary support from Russia. If a German pensioner dies of the cold because of a gas shortage, then it's their own fault for collaborating with Russia.
    – nick012000
    Mar 24, 2022 at 21:51
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    @TimurShtatland There are people in Ukraine who are dying for reasons that are not their fault, too.
    – user253751
    Mar 30, 2022 at 16:31
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    @user253751 I think there's too much focus on what's good/bad morally compared to what's expedient politically and strategically. Ukraine is not going to turn off the pipeline to the west, not because they care very deeply about German pensioners, but because doing so would hurt them more than it would hurt Russia. The "West" is committing many resources to fund the war in Ukraine. Destroying the pipeline would hurt the West and would very likely be deemed a hostile act. At least by citizens. The cost of losing support is bigger than the gains of cutting off Russia from the West's gas money.
    – DRF
    Jul 10, 2022 at 12:34

A washington post article dealt with this question, among other things. Below I have made a summary of the relevant parts of the article. Some of this has already been addressed in other answers.

The Ukrainian authorities demand from Western partners to impose tough sanctions on oil and gas from Russia, but they themselves do not stop the transit of energy resources, including for money. This is reported by The Washington Post.

Senior Ukrainian officials demanded that their Western partners impose tougher sanctions and sever almost all economic ties with Russia, saying that "more needs to be done" to damage Moscow's military machine. But no matter how surreal it may seem, Ukraine insists that it has virtually no choice but to support its own commercial deals, and has lobbied for their preservation, claiming that they provide some leverage over the Kremlin and help deter Russian airstrikes.

— writes the American edition.

The head of Naftogaz, Alexey Chernyshov, told The Washington Post that Ukraine cannot and should not close pipelines both in order to claim residual income and because some of Kiev's European allies still depend on Russian oil and gas.

Last year, Moscow sent about 300 thousand barrels of oil per day through the Druzhba pipeline, which crosses Ukraine. Russia is also obliged to pump about 40 billion cubic meters of gas annually through the gas transportation system of Ukraine due to supply agreements," the publication continues. Ukrainian officials told reporters that they are in a difficult situation: "Russian hydrocarbons crossing the territory of Ukraine bring the Kremlin millions of dollars and help finance its military machine. But Kiev also needs the money it earns from transit and wants to be a reliable economic partner for European countries, some of which may face destabilizing price increases if Russian energy supplies suddenly stop.

The Working Group on sanctions against Russia, chaired by the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Ermak and former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, published an "action plan" in which it called for stopping all routes of Russian oil and gas supplies, except through Ukraine.

The logic of maintaining transit through Ukraine is clear: gas will go to European markets anyway, because the EU has made several exceptions to the embargo regime for countries such as Hungary, expert Anders Aslund said.

According to him, the purpose of the sanctions is not to introduce a "general ban on trade with Russia," but to "inflict maximum damage on Russia without causing more damage to Ukraine than necessary."

The Washington Post notes that Russia hoped to bypass Ukraine by opening two gas pipelines across the Baltic Sea to Germany. However, sabotage was carried out on the "Northern Streams".

Natalia Shapoval, vice President for Political Studies at the Kiev School of Economics, believes that Russia's use of Ukrainian pipelines "creates some additional protection" and, apparently, limits Moscow's airstrikes.

Recent intelligence leaks from the United States have shown that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky offered to blow up the Druzhba oil pipeline.

However, in order to stop supplies, it is not necessary to blow up the pipeline. They can just stop doing business if they want to

Matthew Sagers, an energy transportation expert at S&P Global Commodity Insights, told the American publication.

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Money don't smell, Ukraine is still getting money for transit of Russian gas and oil. Nord Stream 2 was born dead and Nord Stream 1 will stop soon, so Ukraine will stay the only way for transit of Russian gas. The Russian transit is the only real way for Ukraine to get oil and gas as only alternative would be getting that goods from Europe by train.

It looks like money defenetly play an important role since the only demand from Ukraine to Russia for futher transit was increase in tariffs, at least acording to this Russian article:

Russia plans to maintain the volume of oil pumping through the Druzhba pipeline through Ukraine, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin said in an interview with RIA Novosti. "On December 20, in an interview with the Rossiya-24 TV channel, the president of Transneft (Nikolay) Tokarev said that next year the volume of oil pumping through the southern branch of the Druzhba oil pipeline to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will remain at the level of this year," the diplomat said. The representative of the department clarified that the Ukrainian side had contacted Transneft to discuss transit. "As far as we know, in November, Transneft confirmed receipt of a notification from Ukrtransnafta about an increase in tariffs for pumping oil through the Druzhba pipeline running through the territory of Ukraine from January 1, 2023," Galuzin said.

  • 1
    What you are saying is very true, but it is playing only a minor part in the decision to open/close the pipeline through the Ukraine. Relations with the EU Partners that are now providing Assistance and aid to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people is very high on the list and completely outweighs the financial benefit that the pipeline provides. Jul 10, 2022 at 10:48

Some oficials in Ukraine seem to see the transit as guaranty of their security as can be seen in the article «Оператор ГТС Украины»: транзит газа из России гарант безопасности (2022-07-09):

"GTS Operator of Ukraine": gas transit from Russia is a guarantor of security

According to the statement of the head of the "GTS Operator of Ukraine" Sergey Makogon, the transit of gas from Russia guarantees the military security of Ukraine, since the state is one of the main transit countries for Russian gas.

Earlier, the United States and Germany issued a joint statement, which deals with measures to support Ukraine, European energy security and common goals for climate protection. The statement defines a number of conditions for the operation of Nord Stream 2. The United States and Germany believe that it is in the interests of Ukraine and Europe to continue the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2024, and Berlin undertakes to use all available means of influence so that the agreement between Russia and Ukraine on gas transit is extended for ten years.

“Our main problem is actually ensuring the energy security of Ukraine. Now transit guarantees us the availability of a resource on the territory of Ukraine, and this also guarantees military security for us as a state. As long as we have transit, this ties the hands of our northern neighbor, since Ukraine is still one of the main transit countries for Russian gas to Europe,” he said on the air of the Ukraine 24 TV channel.

To the question of Ukraine maintaining the status of a gas transit country after 2024, given the agreement between the United States and Germany, the general director of the GTS Operator of Ukraine replied: “The document that I saw is more of a declaration. I did not see any fuses there that the transit would remain. We do not believe that this is an agreement. Moreover, we were not a party to these negotiations between Germany and the United States.”

Makogon noted that Ukraine has a valid agreement with Russia until the end of 2024, which provides for a “pump or pay” clause. “Therefore, regardless of the presence of physical transit through Ukraine, Gazprom until 2025 will pay approximately $1.3 billion for the transportation of 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year. We also have additional capacities that we constantly offer. In the entire history of gas transit through Ukraine, there has never been a transit stop due to the fault of the Ukrainian GTS,” Makogon said.

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    Not sure that contracts between Russia and Ukraine can still be seen as such guarantees. Kind of: they invaded us but hey, we have a contract.
    – Trilarion
    Jul 9, 2022 at 13:33
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    @Trilarion Not my words, just quoted what one of Ukraines oficials said.
    – user43753
    Jul 9, 2022 at 14:29
  • @Trilarion That sounds a lot like how the West and the Warsaw Pact dealt with one another throughout the Cold War. As long as you're not invading CONUS or Moscow, it's all chips on the table.
    – Therac
    Jul 10, 2022 at 19:37
  • Downvoting this as the source is a Russian website citing Ukrainian officials during the war. Absolutely ridiculous kind of evidence. Not even an official statement.
    – Igor
    Dec 27, 2022 at 21:44

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