Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Maas also warned Russia against using gas transit to put Ukraine under political pressure. The foreign minister said with Nord Stream 2’s goal that anyone who does so should expect that the operation of other pipelines will also be tied in with conditions.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) has previously spoken in favor of making the pipeline’s operation dependent on Russia’s behaviour. This weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and US President Joe Biden are likely to meet for their first in-person meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in southern England. Nord Stream 2 will likely play a bigger role here, too.
Three weeks ago, the Biden government partially abandoned years of resistance to the pipeline between Russia and Germany and scrapped sanctions against the operator – also out of consideration for relations with Germany. Then a delegation from the federal government traveled to Washington to discuss how to move forward. There should be another round of video chats this week.
Maas stressed that the goal was to achieve “very concrete results” by August. In August, the US government submitted a new report to the Senate regarding Nord Stream 2 and possible punitive measures against the project.
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In the past few weeks, there has been speculation about the consideration Germany could make for the US waiver of sanctions. Maas has now spoken publicly for the first time about the content of the conversations. Ukraine’s dependence on Russian gas transportation is one of the main arguments of pipeline opponents against the almost completed pipeline across the Baltic Sea. Ukraine relies on billions of dollars in Russian transit payments and fears they could be cut off once Nord Stream 2 is completed.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken defended the waiver of sanctions against the operator on Tuesday (local time) at a Senate hearing. There he frankly admitted that the Biden government could no longer stop the construction of the pipeline. It’s too late to stop tying these tubes. Construction of the pipeline was already more than 90 percent complete when Biden took office in January.
The top US diplomat said the worst-case scenario would have been if the pipeline had been completed and at the same time the relationship with Germany was poisoned and the Germans had no incentive to cooperate with the United States on the issue. “The Germans have now come to the negotiating table.”
Talks revolve around finding a solution to Ukraine’s missing transit fees and planning automatic measures that should go into effect if Moscow behaves inappropriately.
Blinken emphasized that the physical construction of the pipeline could no longer be stopped. However, there are opportunities to influence the operation of the pipeline and impacts on Ukraine and other countries. We must now talk to the Germans about these matters. Even when the pipeline is complete, insurance and permits are required. “We will take a closer look at all of that.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba expressed doubts on Wednesday after a conversation with Maas that Russia would stick to contractual arrangements with Ukraine. “We have no confidence that Russia will receive any guarantees for us,” he said, according to the official translation.
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