The U.S. and Germany announced Wednesday the two governments are greenlighting the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Russia to Europe.
The agreement will invest 200 million Euros into Ukrainian energy security and renewable energy across Europe, the State Department announced Wednesday. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an $11 billion dollar project of Russian state energy company Gazprom, had been a consistent point of tension between Washington and Berlin for much of the last decade.
#BREAKING Kremlin says Putin, Merkel “satisfied” with near completion of Nord Stream 2 pic.twitter.com/6dB8GD8XBl
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 21, 2021
The completion of the additional pipeline will double the capacity of the initial Nord Stream project, which pumps gas directly from Russia to Germany. The project has been opposed by some opponents of Moscow, chiefly Ukraine, which is bypassed by the pipeline and will thus lose out on transit fees for the use of alternative eastern European pipelines.
A senior State Department official reportedly told journalists Wednesday that the United States and Germany are “resolutely committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine and reserve the right to sanction Russia energy entities. “Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector,” the anonymous official reportedly said.
The U.S. and Germany consulted directly with the government in Ukraine before moving ahead, according to CNBC. The White House announced President Joe Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Aug. 30 in Washington, D.C.
Biden’s policy on the pipeline represents a direct reversal from his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who sanctioned the firms involved with the pipeline’s construction. The Trump administration cited concerns about European dependence on Russian energy and economic harm to Ukraine as justification for the sanctions.
Axios previously reported that a key driver of Biden’s reversal is a desire to mend relations with Germany, which became more tense during the Trump era. Biden met Thursday with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. (RELATED: ‘Terrible Mistake’: Tom Cotton Blasts Biden Admin Over Nord Stream 2)
Republicans have criticized Biden for going soft on Russia over Nord Stream 2. Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Wednesday the deal was “absolutely tragic.”
“It undermines the Ukrainians, it undermines our friends in Poland, it undermines the United States and NATO,” he added.