Germany and the United States have announced a deal that will complete the controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe without additional US sanctions.
The Nord Stream 2 deal, announced Wednesday, says Germany and the United States will pledge to oppose any future attempts by Russia to use the pipeline as a political tool.
The two states also agreed to support Ukraine and Poland, which view the project as a security threat, by funding alternative energy and development projects.
In a joint statement, the two governments said they were “united in their determination to hold Russia accountable for aggression and malicious acts by imposing costs through sanctions and other instruments,” referring mainly to Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine.
There have long been concerns that Nord Stream 2 could give Russia too much power over gas supplies to Europe or allow gas to be cut off for Russia’s opponents.
But the pipeline is almost complete, and throughout the process it enjoyed the firm support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
What is Germany subscribed to?
The joint statement says that “if Russia tries to use energy as a weapon or takes further aggressive actions against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and demand effective measures at the European level, including sanctions.”
Germany and the US have pledged to support a $ 1 billion fund for Ukraine to diversify energy sources, of which Germany will provide an initial $ 175 million.
Germany also guaranteed that it would reimburse Ukraine for gas transit fees it would lose due to bypassing Nord Stream 2 until 2024, with a possible 10-year extension.
He also pledged to continue to support Ukraine in moving away from coal, including by appointing a new “special envoy” with $ 70 million in funding.
As a sign of respect for Poland, Germany has also agreed to sign the Three Seas Initiative, a scheme promoted by the EU and the US that aims to improve the energy security of countries bordering the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas.
The statement said the German government will help allocate up to $ 1.7 billion from European Union funds for the initiative by 2027.
Opposition to Nord Stream 2 remains widespread
The United States lifted sanctions on Russian companies controlling Nord Stream 2 in May this year. But the Biden administration continues to oppose the pipeline in principle.
The deal has already drawn condemnation from Ukraine and Poland. In a joint statement In a release Wednesday evening, the foreign ministers of the two countries, Dmitry Kuleba and Zbigniew Rau, called the deal “insufficient.”
“The decision to build Nord Stream 2, taken in 2015, just months after the Russian invasion and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, created a crisis of security, confidence and a political crisis in Europe,” they said. “At present, this crisis is significantly aggravated by the refusal of attempts to stop the launch of the HC2 gas pipeline.
“Unfortunately, proposals to address the resulting security gap cannot be considered sufficient to limit the threats posed by NS2. We call on the United States and Germany to adequately resolve the security crisis in our region, from which Russia is the only beneficiary. Ukraine and Poland will work together with their partners and oppose NS2 until solutions are developed. “
American politicians of all stripes also lined up to criticize the move Wednesday. The main Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCall of Texas, said he had no doubts that Russia would continue to “use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a weapon of coercion against Ukraine and transatlantic energy security. as soon as it starts to act.
“Promises to invest in future Ukrainian energy projects and ambiguous threats of consequences will not change this reality.”
The State Department said its officials should visit Kiev and Warsaw this week to personally brief them on the deal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also due to visit Biden on August 30. The invitation to “later this summer” was announced in June, prior to Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, but a date was not set until Wednesday.