Ukraine says it has discussed guarantees with US and Germany on Nord Stream 2
The United States and Germany unveiled a deal on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under which Berlin pledged to respond to any Russian attempt to use energy as a weapon against Ukraine and others. Central and Eastern European countries, write Simon Lewis, Andrea Shalal, Andreas Rinke, Thomas Escritt, Pavel Polityuk, Arshad Mohammed, David Brunnstrom and Doyinsola Oladipo.
The pact aims to mitigate what critics see as the strategic dangers of the $ 11 billion pipeline, now 98% complete, under construction under the Baltic Sea to transport gas from the Arctic region from Russia to Germany.
U.S. officials have opposed the pipeline, which would allow Russia to export gas directly to Germany and potentially cut off other countries, but President Joe Biden’s administration has chosen not to try to kill it. with US sanctions.
Instead, he negotiated the pact with Germany that threatens to impose costs on Russia if it seeks to use the pipeline to harm Ukraine or other countries in the region.
But these steps appear to have done little to allay fears in Ukraine, which has said it is calling for talks with the European Union and Germany over the pipeline. The deal also faces political opposition in the United States and Germany.
A joint statement outlining the details of the deal said Washington and Berlin were “united in their determination to hold Russia accountable for its aggression and malicious activities by imposing costs through sanctions and other tools.”
If Russia attempts “to use energy as a weapon or to commit other aggressive acts against Ukraine”, Germany will take action on its own initiative and push the EU to take action, including sanctions, “to limit Russia’s export capacity to Europe in the energy sector,” the statement said.
He did not detail the specific Russian actions that would trigger such a move. “We have chosen not to provide Russia with a roadmap on how it can evade this push back commitment,” a senior State Department official told reporters, speaking under the guise of anonymity.
“We will also certainly seek to hold future German governments accountable for the commitments they have made in this regard,” the official said.
Under the agreement, Germany “will use all available levers” to extend the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement for 10 years, a major source of revenue for Ukraine which expires in 2024.
Germany will also contribute at least $ 175 million to a new $ 1 billion “Green Fund for Ukraine” aimed at improving the country’s energy independence.
Ukraine sent notes to Brussels and Berlin calling for consultations, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet, adding that the pipeline “threatens the security of Ukraine”. Read more.
Kuleba also released a statement with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau pledging to work together to oppose Nord Stream 2.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he looks forward to a “frank and dynamic” discussion with Biden on the pipeline when the two meet in Washington next month. The visit was announced by the White House on Wednesday, but press secretary Jen Psaki said the timing of the announcement was unrelated to the pipeline deal.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin hours before the deal was released, the German government said, saying Nord Stream 2 and gas transit through Ukraine were among the topics.
The pipeline has weighed on US-German relations ever since former President Donald Trump said he could turn Germany into “Russia’s hostage” and approved some sanctions.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter that he was “relieved that we have found a constructive solution”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, questioned on Wednesday about the details of the deal, said any threat of sanctions against Russia was “unacceptable”, according to the Interfax news agency.
Even before it was made public, the leaked details of the deal drew criticism from some German and US lawmakers.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who has delayed Biden’s ambassadorial appointments over concerns over Nord Stream 2, said the announced deal would be “a generational geopolitical victory for Putin and a disaster for the United States and our allies “.
Cruz and other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are furious at the Democratic president for lifting congressional sanctions against the pipeline and are working on ways to force the administration’s hand on sanctions, according to reports. Congress advisers.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said she was not convinced the deal would mitigate the impact of the pipeline, which she said “allows the Kremlin to expand its malicious influence throughout Eastern Europe “.
“I am skeptical that it will be enough when the key player at the table – Russia – refuses to play by the rules,” Shaheen said.
In Germany, leading members of the Green Party called the reported deal a “bitter setback for climate protection” that would benefit Putin and weaken Ukraine.
Officials in the Biden administration insist the pipeline was so close to completion when they took office in January that they had no way of preventing its completion.
“We certainly think there is more than the previous administration could have done,” the US official said. “But, you know, we were making the most of a bad hand.”