U.S. is allegedly asking Ukraine to “keep quiet” in regard to Nord Stream 2, while it attempts to strike some sort of deal with Germany, Politico reported.
Unnamed U.S. officials allegedly signaled that they’ve given up on stopping the project, known as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
They are now scrambling to “contain the damage” by striking a grand bargain with Germany.
The deal allegedly, holds that Germany would take unspecified national action if Russia commits such actions, a decision that may mark a concession from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had previously balked at making independent moves against the Kremlin over the gas pipeline that will run from Russia to Germany.
If Russia attempted to use energy as a weapon or commit aggression against Ukraine, Germany would take action itself while also pressing for measures at the European level, including sanctions to limit Russia’s energy exports, according to the accord.
The Politico report is entirely based on anonymous claims, and “US officials” who remain unmentioned.
According to the outlet, Biden administration officials have quietly urged their Ukrainian counterparts to withhold criticism of a forthcoming agreement with Germany involving the pipeline, according to four people with knowledge of the conversations.
The U.S. officials have indicated that going public with opposition to the forthcoming agreement could damage the Washington-Kyiv bilateral relationship, according to the sources.
In ongoing talks with Germany, U.S. officials are trying to limit the risks the pipeline will present to Ukraine and to European energy security, the key unnamed official told POLITICO.
American and German officials are in talks about the pipeline and its impact on Ukraine, the anonymous source added. They are looking for ways to reduce the damage it does to the young democracy.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that the pipeline’s completion is a fait accompli. The senior administration official said the U.S. has concluded that sanctions will not be able to block the pipeline’s completion.
Another unnamed source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Kiev’s position is that U.S. sanctions could still stop completion of the project, if only the Biden administration had the will to use them at the construction and certification stages. That person said Kiev remains staunchly opposed to the project.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration gave Zelensky a date for a meeting at the White House with the president later this summer, according to a senior administration official.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been a point of contention in U.S.-Germany relations for years.
Nearly complete, the pipeline under the Baltic Sea is seen in Berlin as key to its energy security and in Moscow as a way to expand influence in Europe while filling its coffers.
Some, like former top Pentagon official for Ukraine policy Evelyn Farkas, said she would’ve “preferred” the Biden administration “wait for after the elections in Germany” before making this deal.
Many in Washington continue to oppose the pipeline over concerns it mainly benefits Russia, and both Democrats and Republicans have urged the Biden administration to block Nord Stream 2’s completion.
In May, the administration waived congressionally mandated sanctions on the pipeline because they argued such measures would harm U.S.-German relations, earning Biden and his team a strong rebuke from normally friendly political allies.
“The administration has said that the pipeline is a bad idea and that it is a Russian malign influence project,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at the time. “I share that sentiment, but fail to see how [the waiver] decision will advance U.S. efforts to counter Russian aggression in Europe.”
Ukraine fears that a completed Nord Stream 2 will minimize its role as a transit nation for energy flowing from Russia into Europe. German officials, meanwhile, have tried unsuccessfully to reassure Kyiv.
“For us, Ukraine is and will remain a transit country even once Nord Stream 2 is completed,” Merkel said last week during a press conference alongside Zelensky in Berlin. “There are big worries about this on the Ukrainian side and we take those seriously,” she continued, adding “the European Union and Germany will see to it that this continues in the future beyond 2024.”
The Politico report is entirely based on anonymous sources – in the Biden Administration, in various branches of US government, in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s surroundings and so on.
Whether any of that is factual and Kiev will indeed keep quiet in regard to a possible US-Germany deal and Nord Stream 2 is debatable and quite dubious.
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