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Biden, Merkel agree Russia cannot use Nord Stream pipeline as weapon

US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 15, 2021.

Saul Loeb | AFP| Images

President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on Thursday that they will oppose any effort by Russia to use the contentious Nord Stream pipeline as a weapon against neighboring nations such as Ukraine.

The completion of Nord Stream 2, an $11 billion gas pipeline that would run directly to Germany from Russia under the Baltic Sea, has long been a source of tension between Washington and Berlin, otherwise close NATO allies.

“While I reiterated my concerns about Nord Stream 2, Chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our conviction that Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors,” Biden said. 

“My view on Nord Stream 2 has been known for some time. Good friends can disagree, but by the time I became president, it was 90% completed and imposing sanctions did not seem to make any sense,” he said.

The president waived sanctions against Swiss-based company Nord Stream 2 AG, which is running the pipeline project, and its German CEO in May. Nord Stream 2 AG is owned by the Russian state energy company Gazprom.

Biden has opposed the completion of the pipeline over concerns that it would allow Moscow to gain increased political leverage over other European nations and more control over energy reserves. 

In particular, the U.S. fears that the pipeline would threaten the security and economy of Ukraine by depriving it of crucial gas transport revenues.  

The route of a proposed new gas pipeline from Russia to Europe.

nord-stream2.com

Merkel has supported the pipeline, but emphasized on Thursday that Nord Stream would not replace Ukraine’s transit pipelines for natural gas. 

“Our idea is and remains that Ukraine remains a transit country for natural gas, that Ukraine, just as any other country in the world, has the right to territorial sovereignty,” Merkel said at the joint press conference.

“We will be actively acting should Russia not respect this right of Ukraine that it has as a transit country,” Merkel said. 

Biden said he and Merkel asked their teams to examine practical measures that can be taken to determine if Europe’s energy security is “strengthened or weakened based on Russian actions.”

The pipeline was among the several global issues that the two leaders addressed at the White House on Thursday in what is likely to be Merkel’s last visit to Washington before she steps down from office. 

The two leaders also announced a climate and energy partnership, which Biden said will support energy security and the development of sustainable energy in emerging economies in Central Europe and Ukraine. 

CNBC Politics

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Biden and Merkel also signed a pact, called the Washington Declaration, which reaffirms the U.S. and Germany’s commitment to democratic principles and outlines a…

Read More: Biden, Merkel agree Russia cannot use Nord Stream pipeline as weapon

2021-07-15 19:27:00

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