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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged European nations to oppose a new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, warning that it risks undermining stability across the region.

Speaking to business leaders and diplomats in London as European regulators decide whether to approve the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Johnson didn’t refer to the project by name but warned against over-dependence on Vladimir Putin’s Russia and said the U.K. “supports the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine."

The British government has previously said it opposes the pipeline, in part because it is worried it would divert shipments of Russian gas away from Ukraine, depriving that country of transit fees at a critical time.

“We hope that our friends may recognize that a choice is shortly coming -- between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines, and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability," Johnson said in his speech in London. “Let me put it that way."

The prime minister was speaking at a time when the U.S. is raising the alarm with EU allies that Russia may be weighing a potential invasion of Ukraine as tensions flare between Moscow and the bloc.

Johnson said the U.K. does not want to be “adversarial to Russia" over Ukraine but has a “commitment to democracy and freedom that is shared now across the vast mass of the European continent."

He also said the U.K. had been “quick to respond" when Poland asked for help to deal with a “contrived crisis" on its border with Belarus, where Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is accused of pushing thousands of migrants to cross into the European Union to undermine security. The EU has said it sees Russia’s hand in the actions of Lukashenko and his government.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, Johnson also:

  • Said the COP26 climate summit was a “tipping point" in the battle against global warming
  • Reiterated his government’s pledge to build a quantum computer, and said the U.K. would secure 50% of the global quantum computing market by 2040

Said the U.K. will become “a science superpower," to boost national security by reducing its reliance on other nations’ technology

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