Republicans, opponents of President Joe Biden, quickly denounced the agreement as a “gift” to President Vladimir Putin, but the US administration responded that it was trying to ensure a positive outcome from the nearly completed pipeline.
“It’s a bad situation and a bad pipeline, but we need to help protect Ukraine, and I feel we’ve taken some important steps in that direction,” said Victoria Nuland, the US State Department’s political affairs chief, as she disclosed details of the agreement during a Senate hearing.
Biden, who received Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, rescinded most of the sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that Congress had demanded, arguing that it was too late to stop it and that it was better to cooperate with Germany.
The pipeline project through the Baltic Sea has faced strong opposition from Ukraine, which has been fighting pro-Moscow separatists since 2014, and considers the transport of Russian gas through its territory a vital means of pressure.
In a show of firm support for Kiev, the US administration announced that Biden would receive Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on August 30.
Another senior State Department official, Derek Chollet, traveled this week to Ukraine and Poland to discuss the pipeline deal.
Nuland said the deal would also include “realistic” financial figures to help Ukraine diversify its energy supply.
Germany, which was facing heated differences with former US President Donald Trump, praised Biden’s approach as a revival of the alliance.
Republicans quickly criticized the deal, saying it was a betrayal of Ukraine and an encouragement to Putin.
Referring to concerns about Nord Stream 2, Republican Senator Ted Cruz said: “We’ve always known that Biden and Putin always got along, and now they’re closer together.
Biden has also faced criticism from Democrats over the Nord Stream 2 project, but his defenders have called the Republican attacks ridiculous, with Trump unabashedly praising Putin and expressing distaste for Ukraine with a phone call in which he tried to twist Zelensky’s arm, which led to the president’s death His first trial.
Nuland, a former career diplomat best known for supporting pro-Western protesters in Ukraine in 2013, responded frankly to Cruz that the Trump administration, which took office in 2017, had a responsibility.
“I think in 2016 we were on our way to stopping the pipeline project,” she said. When the Biden administration took office four years later, that pipeline was 90% complete.
On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the agreement, but added that “differences” remained.
Merkel said the agreement on Nord Stream 2, which threatens sanctions against Russia if it uses its energy as a weapon against Ukraine, is a “good step that shows willingness to make a compromise on both sides.” But she added that “differences still exist.” Yesterday, Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed Berlin and Washington’s agreement on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which aims to link Germany and Russia, describing it as a “constructive solution.”
“We have reached a constructive solution regarding Nord Stream 2,” Maas said in a tweet, explaining that his country “will work to ensure the transit of gas through Ukraine over the next decade.”
Kiev and Warsaw
Kiev and Warsaw considered that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project threatens Ukraine and all of Central Europe at the “political, military (and) energy” levels.
“Such a decision creates new threats to Ukraine and Central Europe, to the political, military (and) energy levels,” the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, and Poland, Zbigniew Rau, said in a joint statement.
In return, Germany promised $1 billion to Ukraine to switch to clean energy and reduce its dependence on Russia, a US official said on Wednesday.
“Germany has committed to creating and managing a billion-dollar energy fund to support Ukraine’s transition to clean energy,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
In Moscow, the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed their satisfaction with the imminent completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project during a phone call.
“The two leaders are satisfied that the project is nearing completion,” the Kremlin said in a statement after the conversation.
Merkel considers the agreement a good step, and differences still exist