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US, Germany reach deal on controversial pipeline Biden sees as Russian “geopolitical project”

“While we remain opposed to the pipeline, we have come to the conclusion that sanctions will not stop its construction and risk undermining a critical alliance with Germany, as well as with the EU and other European allies.” a senior State Department official said on Wednesday.

The announcement is unlikely to end bitter divisions on the pipeline, with U.S. lawmakers condemning the deal, Ukrainian officials immediately intervening to say they are filing diplomatic protests, and even the United States acknowledging its opposition. to the project remains firm.

“I would just say emphatically that we still oppose Nord Stream 2, we still believe this is a project of evil Russian geopolitical influence, none of that has changed,” the top said. responsible.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday evening that at this point in the project there was no way to stop its completion.

“Nord Stream is 99% complete. The idea that something was going to be said or done was going to stop it was not possible,” Biden said in Kentucky after a CNN town hall before returning to Washington. “But I had, as you know, very, very fruitful discussions with Angela Merkel and she is working, as well as with the German government, on a commitment which suggests that if in fact Russia bother to inflict deliberately suffering to Ukraine or other countries, they will react. “

In an attempt to prevent Russia from using the pipeline to increase Europe’s dependence on its energy supplies, Germany has agreed to take a series of measures to mitigate security risks. energy, for Ukraine and for the countries of the European Union and NATO close to Russian borders. In the past, Russia has cut off the energy supply of other countries, including Ukraine.

“Germany is really committed to taking swift action,” the senior official said on a call with reporters. “There are a number of tools that Germany and the EU have at their disposal to repel Russian aggression or malicious activity.”


“We may have differences over Nord Stream 2, but we are united in repelling Russian aggression,” the senior official said.

The pipeline, which was over 90% complete when the Biden administration took office and would transport gas from Russian fields to Germany via the Baltic Sea, has sparked bipartisan anger and opposition in Congress, where some lawmakers accused the United States of having powerful weapons. Ukraine to accept the arrangement.

“We are not threatening our partners,” the senior State Department official said, adding that the administration has engaged Ukraine in deliberations with Germany and expects to work trilaterally with Ukraine .

Ukrainian officials immediately expressed disappointment and disapproval, with the country’s foreign minister taking to Twitter.

“Under Article 274 of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, Ukraine officially begins consultations with the European Commission and Germany on NS2, which threatens the security of Ukraine, violates the principle diversification of the European Energy Union, “wrote Dmytro Kuleba. “Notes for Brussels and Berlin already sent. “

Lawmakers have also made clear their dissatisfaction. Senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch, said in a statement that “not a single member of Congress supports the completion of this pipeline.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Democrat from New Hampshire who co-wrote the legislation to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2, said the pipeline would empower Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

“Germany is a vital ally of the United States and I welcome the steps taken by the administration to try to negotiate a diplomatic channel and consult with our European allies to mitigate the impact of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project,” said Shaheen in a statement. “However, I am not yet convinced that this agreement – or any other bilateral agreement – can provide enough reassurance to our European allies and minimize the considerable economic impact and security implications of completing this pipeline. J have long argued that Nord Stream 2 must not be completed as it allows the Kremlin to extend its malicious influence throughout Eastern Europe, threatens the economic security of our European partners and endangers our global stability . I still believe it. ”

The senior official said the pipeline was at this point more than 95% complete, but would not say when it could become operational, whether the Biden administration would lift existing sanctions or its threat to drop the sanctions waiver it it issued in May for the company. the construction of the pipeline and its German CEO.

The senior State Department official has repeatedly pointed out that the Trump administration chose to impose only two sanctions on the pipeline and waited until the last day of its tenure to do so. The Biden administration applied 19 sanctions to entities and vessels linked to the pipeline.

“Even after Congress passed bipartisan legislation … in 2017 and 2019, the previous administration only applied pipeline-related sanctions on its very last day in office,” the top said. responsible. “The previous administration could have used a number of sanctions tools… but it chose not to.”

This story has been updated with comments from President Joe Biden.

CNN’s Michael Conte, Jason Hoffman and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.


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