Los Angeles Times

U.S., Germany reach a deal on Russian gas pipeline

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WASHINGTON — The United States and Germany on Wednesday announced a deal to allow the completion of a Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions.

The agreement aims to stanch fears about European dependence on Russian energy, but it was immediatel­y assailed by critics who said it doesn’t go far enough.

Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. and Germany committed to countering any Russian attempt to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a political weapon. And they agreed to support Ukraine and Poland, both of which are bypassed by the project and fear Russia’s intentions, by funding alternativ­e energy and developmen­t projects.

“The United States and Germany are united in their determinat­ion to hold Russia to account for its aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools,” they said in a statement that covered Nord Stream 2 as well as Russia’s support for separatist­s in Ukraine.

“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,” it said.

The Nord Stream 2 project has posed a major foreign policy dilemma for the Biden administra­tion. U.S. officials from both parties have long feared that it would give Russia too much power over European gas supplies. But the pipeline is almost completed and the U.S. has been determined to rebuild ties with Germany that were damaged during the Trump administra­tion.

Poland and Ukraine expressed their displeasur­e over the decision to allow the pipeline’s completion and said the efforts to reduce the Russian security threat were not sufficient.

“This decision has created a political, military and energy threat for Ukraine and Central Europe, while increasing Russia’s potential to destabiliz­e the security situation in Europe, perpetuati­ng divisions among [the North Atlantic Treaty Organizati­on] and European Union member states,” the Polish and Ukrainian foreign ministers said in a statement.

The agreement is not a clear political win for either President Biden or German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an unabashed supporter of the pipeline who will step down this year.

For Biden, he risks appearing weak as it relates to Russia, and Merkel’s governing party faces a serious challenge from Germany’s Green Party, which opposes the pipeline, in September elections.

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