US won’t block completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The Biden administration won’t block the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and will announce an agreement with Germany on the natural gas line’s construction in the coming days, according to top officials.
Reuters first reported Monday that the U.S. and Germany were close to reaching a deal following discussions among officials from both countries over continued U.S. concerns that the nearly complete pipeline would make Europe too heavily dependent on Russia for gas.
The U.S. has also warned the pipeline could rid Ukraine of the transit fees on gas currently pumped in a pipeline through the country.
President Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were not able to reach a deal on the pipeline during their meeting at the White House last week in what was likely the outgoing German leader’s last official visit to D.C.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that one source familiar with the discussions among top officials said a deal was expected to be unveiled in the coming days, with another person saying the announcement could come as early as Wednesday.
When asked about the reports on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that she expected “the State Department and others will have more on this soon.”
Psaki told reporters in the White House press briefing that the administration following Biden’s meeting with Merkel “made clear that this was a point of discussion, and that the president was planning to have a discussion about the fact that we have ongoing concerns about how the project threatens European energy security, undermines Ukraine security and the security of our eastern flank NATO allies and partners.”
“He had directed his team to work with her team to see how we can address those concerns, even as the pipeline was 90 percent finished when this administration took office,” she added.
The pipeline, which is now roughly 98 percent complete, had been opposed by U.S. officials under the two previous presidential administrations.
In the State Department’s Tuesday press breifing, spokesperson Ned Price emphasized that Biden in his meeting with Merkel last week said that the U.S. will “continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”
However, he noted that the U.S. focus has now shifted from stopping construction to working with Germany and other allies to address Russia’s use of energy “potentially as a weapon and other malign activity.”
Price went on to say that the U.S. sees the pipeline “as a Kremlin geopolitical project that is intended to expand Russia’s influence over Europe’s energy resources and to circumvent Ukraine.”
“We have made no bones about the fact that it is a bad deal for Germany, it is a bad deal for Ukraine, and for Europe more broadly,” he added.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for additional information.
Biden in May moved to waive sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and its CEO, Matthias Warnig, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing national security reasons.
Biden defended the move shortly after its announcement, telling reporters from the White House, “It’s almost completely finished.”
“To go ahead and impose sanctions now, I think is counterproductive in terms of our European relations,” he added.