First modification: 07/22/2021 – 02:29
Berlin and Washington unveiled on Wednesday an agreement with which Washington will allow the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that had generated a dispute between the two countries. In return, Berlin will give guarantees to protect Ukraine’s energy supply. Meanwhile, opponents of Joe Biden denounced him as a “gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The dispute over the controversial Nord Stream 2 would already have a solution. The governments of the United States and Germany announced on Wednesday, July 21, an agreement on the famous gas pipeline that is being built under the Baltic Sea to transport gas from the Russian Arctic region to Germany.
The head of German diplomacy, Heiko Maas, expressed on Twitter his “relief” for a “constructive solution”. “We will help Ukraine build a green energy sector and push to secure gas transit through Ukraine in the next decade,” he added.
Bin erleichtert, dass wir in Sachen # NordStream2 mit den #USES🇺🇸 eine konstruktive Lösung gefunden haben. Wir werden die #Ukraine🇺🇦 beim Aufbau eines grünen Energiesektors unterstützen & uns dafür einsetzen, den Gastransit durch die Ukraine im nächsten Jahrzehnt zu sichern.
– Heiko Maas 🇪🇺 (@HeikoMaas) July 21, 2021
And, according to AFP, the Kremlin said Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin declared they were “satisfied that the construction of Nord Stream 2” was “nearing completion.”
America’s historic opposition to the pipeline
The pact resolves the greatest source of tension in the relationship between Berlin and Washington: the staunch US opposition to Nord Stream 2. Indeed, the US nation strongly disapproved of the pipeline for years. He regretted that it passes through the Baltic Sea, which would allow Russia to export gas directly to Germany, potentially isolating other allied countries in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine.
However, in the spring, President Joe Biden finally abandoned the idea of imposing sanctions to block the project, considering that it was too late and that it was better to rely on cooperation with Germany, in favor of Nord Stream 2. Number three of US diplomacy Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday that the Biden administration had inherited a Nord Stream 2 “completed by more than 90%”, and therefore impossible to stop.
To address the fear of their allies in eastern Europe, Germany and the United States supported a 10-year extension of the gas transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine, which normally expires in 2024.
The threat of sanctions against Russia
But the most important point of the agreement is the commitment of Germany to promote the approval of sanctions against Russia, in case Moscow commits “new aggressive acts against Ukraine”. Thus, in a joint statement, the United States and Germany promised to “ensure that Russia will not improperly use any gas pipeline, including Nord Stream 2, to achieve aggressive political ends by using energy as a weapon.”
In that case, the German executive would seek to promote “effective” measures against Moscow, which could affect Russian export capacities to the European Union in energy matters, but also “in other relevant economic sectors,” the statement said. “The United States and Germany are united in their determination to hold Russia accountable for its aggression and evil activities,” both countries declared.
Despite these promises, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries reiterated that Nord Stream 2 was a threat to all of Central Europe. Faced with that conclusion, Ukraine began official consultations with the European Union and Germany on the gas pipeline, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday. The diplomat assured on Twitter that the project “threatens the security of Ukraine” and goes against the principles of diversification of the EU Energy Union.
Відповідно до статті 274 Угоди про Асоціацію з ЄС Україна офіційно ініціює консультації з Єврокомісією і ФРН щодо Північного потоку 2 який загрожує безпеці України і порушує принципи диверсифікації Енергетичного Союзу ЄС. МЗС вже надіслало відповідні ноти в Брюссель і Берлін.
– Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) July 21, 2021
Reports on the deal also drew criticism from some lawmakers, both in Germany and the United States. “We always knew that Biden shared Putin’s bed, and now they hug,” scoffed Republican Senator Ted Cruz, referring to a “gift” that would allow “Russian dictators” to “blackmail Europe for energy.”
In Germany, senior officials from the environmental party The Greens called the notified deal “a bitter setback for climate protection,” which would benefit Putin and weaken Ukraine.
Germany promises a green fund for Ukraine
However, Berlin promised to “create” a “green fund” to “support Ukraine’s energy transition.” Initially endowed by Germany with at least 150 million euros, it will aim to “promote and support investments of at least one billion dollars”, especially from the private sector.
Finally, with Merkel leaving German politics after the September elections, Washington will have to ensure that whoever succeeds her abides by the terms of the deal. “We will seek that any future German government abides by the commitments they have made” under the agreement, declared a senior State Department official.
The White House also revealed this Wednesday that Biden will receive his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodimir Zelenski, on August 30. The president said he planned a “frank” discussion with Biden about Nord Stream 2.
With Reuters, AFP and EFE