Washington-Berlin deal to overcome controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline dispute

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference at the White House in Washington (United States) on July 15, 2021. SAUL LOEB / AFP

The US and German governments announced Wednesday, July 21, an agreement to end their dispute over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany. In a joint declaration, Washington and Berlin threaten 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 a 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 ”, say the two allied countries.

They also plead for the gas to continue to “Transit through Ukraine after 2024”, deadline currently provided for in an agreement with Russia. “Germany undertakes to use all its means of pressure to facilitate an extension of up to ten additional years” of this transit agreement, and will name “A special envoy to support these negotiations” by 1is September, according to the joint statement.

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Finally, Berlin promised to “Create” a “Green fund” for “Supporting Ukraine’s energy transition”, initially matched by Germany to the tune of at least 150 million euros, in order to “Promote and support investments for at least a billion dollars” especially from the private sector.

The head of German diplomacy, Heiko Maas, expressed his “Relief” facing this « solution constructive ». And, according to Moscow, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin said they were 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.

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Joe Biden criticized

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 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 – in favor of Nord Stream 2. This reverse has earned the US 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 must stay “A transit country” for Russian gas, while Joe Biden had said to share with her “The conviction that Russia should not be allowed to use energy as a weapon”. Statements that laid the groundwork for the agreement announced Wednesday.

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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” from “To do energy blackmail” to Europe.

The number three in American diplomacy, Victoria Nuland, replied on Wednesday that the Biden government had inherited a Nord Stream 2 “More than 90% complete”, and therefore impossible to stop, whereas 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 Joe 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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The World with AFP

 
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