US and Germany reach agreement on controversial Russian gas pipeline

US and Germany reach agreement on controversial Russian gas pipeline

The United States and Germany have reached an agreement that will allow the completion of a controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of new U.S. sanctions, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told Congress the two governments would soon announce details of the pact that aims to address concerns from the United States and Eastern and Central Europe concerning the impact of the Nord Stream 2 project.

However, there is strong bipartisan opposition to the gas pipeline in Congress as well as in Ukraine and Poland, who fear that Nord Stream 2 could jeopardize European energy security. Like the Trump administration before it, the Biden administration is also opposed to the pipeline, but it insists sanctions won’t stop it.

Nuland, the third U.S. diplomat, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States and Germany will issue a joint statement later Wednesday regarding the pipeline. She said Washington and Berlin were committed to imposing sanctions on Russia and German companies if Moscow used the pipeline as a political weapon.

Nuland did not elaborate, although congressional advisers briefed on the main lines of the deal said on Tuesday it would allow the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline without Germany or Russia facing further news. US sanctions. In return, the United States and Germany will make certain concessions to Ukraine and Poland, they said.

Nuland categorically denied reports that Ukraine had been warned about a public complaint about the deal and noted that State Department adviser Derek Chollet was traveling to Kiev and Warsaw this week for them. inform of the agreement. Also on Wednesday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden will welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House on August 31.

“The visit will confirm the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggression in Donbass and Crimea, our close cooperation on energy security and our support for President Zelenskyy’s efforts to fight corruption and implement program reform based on our shared democratic values, ”the White House said in a statement.

The Nord Stream 2 project posed a major foreign policy dilemma for the Biden administration. U.S. officials on both sides have long feared this would give Russia too much power over European gas supplies, potentially shutting off gas to Russian adversaries Ukraine and Poland. But the pipeline is almost complete, and the United States is determined to reconnect with Germany the ties that were damaged during the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

Biden’s approach to Ukraine is also a sensitive political subject. Trump’s attempt to pressure Zelenskyy to dig up dirt on Biden and his son led to Trump’s first impeachment. He was then acquitted by the Senate.

Nord Stream 2 has been the subject of intense debate between US and German officials for some time, and it was an important item on the agenda for Biden’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week. Merkel supports the pipeline, and Biden has suggested that punishing Germany for that support would be counterproductive to broad American interests.

But like the Trump administration before it, the Biden administration views the Nord Stream 2 project as a threat to European energy security and has imposed sanctions on some of those who were involved in its construction.

Nuland said the United States continued to oppose the pipeline, but said Biden lifted sanctions against the German company building the pipeline and its senior executives because the sanctions would have been counterproductive.

She and others have defended the waivers, saying they can be rescinded at any time and that the threat actually gives the United States more leverage. This argument has been flouted by opponents of the pipeline.

Poland, Ukraine and other Central and Eastern European countries bypassed by the pipeline fear Russia will use the gas supply as a political weapon. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress and some in the administration support this position.

Under the expected deal between the United States and Germany, Ukraine would get $ 50 million in green energy technology credits, a guarantee of reimbursement of gas transit charges it would lose by being bypassed by the pipeline until 2024, and a commitment from Germany and the United States, sanctions will be reviewed if Russia uses gas as a political weapon, according to congressional advisers.

As a nod to Poland, Germany will also agree to sign the so-called “Three Seas Initiative”, a program promoted by the United States and the European Union which aims to stimulate investment, development. infrastructure and energy security between the countries bordering the Baltic, Black Sea and Adriatic, according to the aid.


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