Russia and Germany are celebrating the historic moment Monday that Nord Stream 2 AG was partially brought online, for the first time filling the front section of the pipeline with gas, at a moment European Union countries have for weeks experienced shortages and soaring prices in many places, crucially which has entered crisis mode ahead of the coming winter.
NS2 operators announced in a Monday press release that "the procedure for filling the first string of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has begun" and further that "the string will now be filled with gas gradually in order to achieve the volume and pressure required for further technical testing."
The next major step before gas will actually transit from Russia into northeast Germany via the Baltic Sea from the St. Petersburg region will be the moment German regulators issue authorization to turn on the taps for the gas to start flowing - considered the final hurdle before it goes fully operational.
The final section of construction in recent weeks and months took place in Denmark's waters, with Danish inspectors and officials giving their own greenlight as well on Monday.
Previously in the face of pushback from Washington and some allies, which charge that Europe will become too energy dependent on the Kremlin, the NS2 operator said, "Nord Stream 2 will contribute to meeting the long-term needs of the European energy market for gas imports, improving supply security and reliability, and providing gas under sensible economic conditions."
The independent Moscow Times has noted of the "controversial" pipeline that leaders in Kiev will continue to lobby hard against it:
The pipeline diverts supplies from an existing route through Ukraine and is expected to deprive Europe's ally of an estimated 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) annually in transit fees from Russia.
Ukraine — in conflict with Russia since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea — has warned Europe that Nord Stream 2 could be used by Moscow as a geopolitical pressure vice.
Last month Ukraine said it will pursue all revenues of action against NS2 "even after the gas is turned on" - yet it's been met with little more than a shrug in Europe, also amid recent US sanctions targeting companies involved in the construction.
Meanwhile NATO's Atlantic Council is marking the occasion with the following blistering critique...
A big recent turning point seen as critical to allowing the pipeline to proceed to completion was the Biden administration quickly agreeing to drop sanctions on the German side of the project soon after he took office. Republicans as well as Ukrainian officials blasted the move as tantamount to caving to Putin.