Agreement between Washington and Berlin on controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

The US and German governments on Wednesday announced an agreement to end their dispute over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, but opponents of Joe Biden denounce a “gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a joint statement, the United States and Germany pose the threat of new sanctions in the event of Moscow slipping in the use of this project, and pledge to try to compensate the losses for Ukraine, which will be deprived of part of the transit of Russian gas through the future pipeline.

“Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit other aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level, and push for effective measures at the national level. European Union, including sanctions, to limit Russian export capacities to Europe in the energy sector ”, state the two allied countries.

They also plead for gas to continue “transit through Ukraine after 2024”, a deadline currently provided for in an agreement with Russia. “Germany pledges to use all its leverage to facilitate an extension of up to ten more years” of this transit agreement, and will appoint “a special envoy to support these negotiations” by September 1, according to the joint statement.

Berlin at the bedside of Kiev

In a telephone conversation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Putin have also “considered” on Wednesday “the possibility” of such an extension “beyond 2024”, reported the Kremlin.

Finally, Berlin promised to “create” a “green fund” to “support the energy transition of Ukraine”, initially matched by Germany to the tune of at least 150 million euros, in order to “promote and support investments of at least one billion dollars ”coming in particular from the private sector.

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The head of German diplomacy Heiko Maas expressed his “relief” at this “constructive solution”.

And, according to Moscow, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Poutine have said together “satisfied to see that the construction of Nord Stream 2” was “about to be completed”.

In fact, the US-German agreement seems to remove the last obstacles to its completion. The US government argued that the end of the work was now inevitable and therefore did everything to present this compromise as a lesser evil.

Nord Stream 2, a means of pressure on Moscow

The United States has strongly opposed this pipeline for years. They deplore that it passes by the Baltic Sea, but not by Ukraine, threatening to deprive this country of part of the revenues collected on the transit, but also of a means of pressure on Moscow.

Joe Biden, however, ended up in the spring by giving up imposing sanctions to block the project, believing that it was too late and that it was better to bet on cooperation with Germany – favorable to Nord Stream 2.

This reversal has earned the American president criticism from Republicans, but also from many tenors of his Democratic camp.

During her visit to Washington last week, Angela Merkel reaffirmed that Ukraine should remain “a transit country” for Russian gas, while Joe Biden said he shared with her “the conviction that we must not let Russia use energy as a weapon ”. Statements that laid the groundwork for the agreement announced Wednesday.

Disgruntled Republicans

Without waiting for the details, the Republicans had denounced this compromise on Tuesday. “We always knew that Biden shared Putin’s bed, now they are cuddling”, taunted, provocatively, the Trumpist senator Ted Cruz, evoking a “gift” allowing “Russian dictators” to “blackmail” energy ”to Europe.

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“Biden satisfies Putin. Maybe that’s not the title he was looking for, ”Ted Cruz tweeted.

The number three of the American diplomacy Victoria Nuland replied to him Wednesday, during a hearing in the Senate, that the Biden government had inherited a Nord Stream 2 “more than 90% completed”, and therefore impossible to stop, then that in 2016, when Donald Trump arrived at the White House, the United States was according to her “in the process of blocking the gas pipeline”.

She also had to deny reports that Washington had pressured the Ukrainian authorities to silence their criticism, citing “close consultations” with Kiev.

The White House immediately announced that President Biden would receive his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on August 30.

But Ukraine and Poland nevertheless reaffirmed, in the wake of the US-German agreement, that Nord Stream 2 was a threat to all of Central Europe.

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