Biden and Merkel fail to resolve disputes over Nord Stream 2 pipeline
By Andrea Shalal and Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON -President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to resolve their dispute over Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Thursday, but said they agreed that Moscow should not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce neighbors.
“Good friends may not agree,” Biden told reporters after two meetings with Merkel at the White House, adding that the two leaders had asked their teams to consider practical steps they could take together. whether Russia’s actions posed a threat.
Biden said he voiced his long-standing concerns to Merkel about the $ 11 billion pipeline, which would bring Arctic gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and depriving it of valuable transit charges .
Washington is urging Germany to find ways to ensure that Russia cannot use the pipeline to harm Ukraine or other allies in Eastern Europe.
Officials from the two countries negotiated a solution that would prevent the resumption of currently lifted US sanctions, but it became clear this week that no deal would be ready in time for the Biden-Merkel meeting.
The Biden administration concluded in May that Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind the project, and its chief executive had engaged in sanctionable behavior. But Biden has waived the sanctions to allow time to reach a deal and avoid derailing his efforts to mend the very frayed ties under the administration of former President Donald Trump.
The pipeline is 98% complete https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/nord-stream-2-ceo-says-construction-work-be-finished-august-2021-07-12 and is expected to be completed at the end of August, his CEO said this week.
Biden told reporters that he and Merkel are “absolutely united in our belief that Russia should not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors.”
Merkel told reporters that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has different views on the US pipeline. But she said Ukraine should remain a transit country and that Berlin will respond “actively” if Russia does not respect Ukraine’s sovereign rights.
Asked about the details, Merkel said the European Union had “a number of instruments” it could use, including sanctions, if Russia violated its commitment to continue shipping natural gas via Ukraine.
Russia has said the pipeline, run by Russian state energy company Gazprom and its Western partners, will come into operation later this year.
Biden said the two leaders agreed to continue supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The two countries agreed to work together to accelerate the fight against the climate crisis in emerging economies, committing to mobilize investments in Central and Eastern Europe.
A joint statement highlighted investments aimed at supporting Ukraine’s energy transformation, energy efficiency and energy security. This decision could be taken into account in a possible agreement, expected before August, to end the threat of American sanctions on Nord Stream 2.