Biden vows to shut down Nord Stream 2 if Russia invades, as US and Germany pledge unity

When Scholz was repeatedly pressed on whether he would commit to stopping the pipeline if President Vladimir Putin’s troops advanced, he kept his response vague.

“We will act together,” Scholz said, echoing Biden’s message of unity. “We will not take any different measures. And they will be very, very tough on Russia.

The German leader, who took over from Angela Merkel last December, has been more reluctant than some other Western allies when it comes to the extent of sanctions Russia would face if Putin goes ahead with an invasion, including a commitment to close the pipeline. Germany has also refused to deliver weapons to Ukraine – sounding alarm bells for critics who have accused Berlin of not playing an active enough role in backing Kiev and deterring Moscow from attacking its neighbour.

Nord Stream 2 has been a headache for Biden – as it has been for former US presidents – as Washington fears the pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia, already the source of the major part of the natural gas supplying Europe.

But regardless of the mounting pressure from its allies, it appears Berlin is sticking to its murky message on its Nord Stream 2. Scholz did not budge during an interview with CNN on Monday afternoon, repeating again that Germany and its allies would act “together”. in replying to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday canceled a scheduled meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock because Berlin’s stance on the pipeline has not changed, a source familiar with the matter told POLITICO. Ukraine has expressed concerns about energy security and fears that the pipeline, which bypasses the country, could lead to lower revenues for its struggling economy.

“What we are doing today is giving this very strong response to Russia, saying that if you invade Ukraine it will have a very high price for you, which will have a high impact on your economy and the chances of your development,” Scholz told CNN, when Jake Tapper asked why he wouldn’t explicitly say they would cancel the pipeline. “And we are ready to take measures that will have costs for us.”

At the joint press conference, Biden said the two leaders had agreed on a “strong set of sanctions,” while providing few details on what they might be.

Both Scholz and Biden addressed Russia’s looming threat to Ukraine during Monday’s press conference, with Biden eventually telling Americans it would be “wise” to leave Ukraine. Scholz’s visit comes as Biden administration officials warn that Russia has mustered 70% of the troops needed to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Biden is scrambling to present a united government response. NATO to the crisis.

“I think it would be wise to leave the country. I don’t mean – not to mention our diplomatic corps. I’m talking about Americans who are out there,” Biden said. “I hate to see them caught in the crossfire if they did invade.”

And Scholz, who hasn’t been as vocal about the growing threat, offered a clear answer on his level of concern.

“It is clear that there is a military threat against Ukraine,” said the Chancellor. “It cannot be glossed over and it is obvious. We see how many Russian troops are deployed along the Ukrainian border, and this is a serious threat to security in Europe.

In a diplomatic cable leaked last week, Germany’s ambassador to Washington warned that a growing number of politicians in Washington have called Germany an “unreliable partner.” Scholz defended himself ahead of Monday’s meeting in an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday.

The German leader said his country was working with its NATO allies, the European Union and the United States on a response to Russia. “Our strict response is to say that prices will be very high if they intervene and we are working very hard to get out of this situation,” Scholz said.

Biden came to Scholz’s defense during Monday’s press conference, answering a question directed at the German chancellor. A reporter denounced Scholz’s reluctance to spell out his plans for Nord Stream 2, noting that transparency could “regain confidence” as a strong US ally.

“There is no need to regain trust. He has the full confidence of the United States,” Biden said. “Germany is one of our most important allies in the world. Germany’s partnership with the United States is beyond doubt. Nothing. When it comes to aid to Ukraine, one of the biggest financial contributors to Ukraine has been Germany. Germany was at the forefront of the guarantee, of economic assistance. But as far as the US media saying Germany is unreliable, Germany is completely reliable.

The two leaders also discussed Germany’s G-7 presidency, global Covid response and health security, climate change and global economic recovery, and also agreed to cooperate on China and the promotion of stability in the Western Balkans, according to a report of the White House meeting. noted.

The German Chancellor is due to visit Ukraine next week before heading to Moscow for a meeting with Putin. Scholz told the Post that during his meeting in Moscow he would warn Putin that Russia would pay “a very high price” if he moved troops to Ukraine.

Hans von der Burchard and Alex Ward contributed to this report.


Politico

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