Germany issues a warning to Russia and backs Ukraine in the US pipeline deal.
In an agreement with the US to repair a deep rift between the allies over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Germany agreed Wednesday to warn Russia of prospective sanctions and to financially boost Ukraine’s energy sector.
The arrangement was promptly attacked by President Joe Biden’s Republican opponents, who claimed it would encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the administration claimed it was too late to stop the pipeline and that the pact instead guaranteed a better end.
“This is a horrible scenario and a bad pipeline,” Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said as she presented facts before a Senate hearing.
Biden, who met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, has already waived the strongest restrictions imposed by Congress on Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that would connect Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and is anticipated to be completed in a matter of weeks.
Many of Russia’s neighbors have been vocal in their opposition to the pipeline, particularly Ukraine, which has been fighting pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.
Ukraine views the passage of Russian gas across its territory on its way to Europe as both a source of leverage and a vital source of revenue, with transit fees bringing in over $3 billion every year.
Germany stated in a joint statement with the US that it has vowed to responding to Russia if Ukraine’s worries come true.
“Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or engage in more hostile activities against Ukraine, Germany will take national-level action and urge for effective European-level measures, including sanctions, to limit Russian energy export capabilities to Europe,” it said.
Germany also said it would use all of its clout to encourage Russia to extend a gas transit agreement through Ukraine that is slated to expire at the end of 2024 by up to ten years, including designating a special envoy to facilitate negotiations by September 1.
Merkel mentioned an extension of transit rights in a call with Putin on Wednesday, according to the Kremlin, and the two leaders were apparently “happy” that Nord Stream 2 was nearing completion.
Ukraine and Poland reiterated their opposition to the pipeline, claiming that it poses a threat to Central Europe.
Germany has promised to assist Ukraine in reducing its dependency on Russian energy, notably by establishing a $1 billion fund.
The fund will address another of Merkel and Biden’s top priorities. Brief News from Washington Newsday.