Sunday September 19, 2021

US, Germany reach deal on controversial Russian pipeline

July 24, 2021

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration announced a far-reaching agreement with Germany in an effort to ensure Ukraine’s energy security as the US steps back its efforts to prevent the use of a controversial Russian pipeline delivering natural gas to Europe.

The announcement marks a significant compromise between the US and Germany over the fate of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a Russian gas line transiting the Baltic Sea to Germany, which the administration has called a “geopolitical malign influence project.”

The pipeline is believed to be about 95 percent complete and US opposition has stretched across three administrations — with presidents Obama, Trump and Biden. Both the Trump and Biden administrations had imposed sanctions on individuals and entities involved in the pipeline’s construction, saying it threatens Europe’s energy security and robs Ukraine of key revenue related to the delivery of natural gas.

The Ukrainian government, in a joint statement with Poland, slammed the deal on Wednesday. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau, said the security promises in the US and German agreement “cannot be considered sufficient to effectively limit the threats created by NS2.” “We call on the United States and Germany to adequately address the security crisis in our region, that Russia is the only beneficiary to.”

A senior State Department official on Wednesday said the US maintains its opposition to the pipeline, but that the agreement with Germany is meant to reduce the risk from Russia of the operational pipeline.

“What we have is really a commitment on the part of both the United States and Germany to hold Russia accountable and to impose costs if it elects to use energy as a weapon or to commit aggressive acts,” the senior official said. “And so that’s the headline here, that’s our commitment.”

The agreement was released as a joint statement between the US and Germany and follows the visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House last week. It also comes as the White House on Wednesday announced that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Washington in August, although the senior official said that announcement was not related to the issuance of the US and German agreement.