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US, Germany pipeline deal warns Russia, seeks Ukraine transit

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A road sign directs traffic towards the Nord Stream 2 gas line landfall facility entrance in Lubmin, north eastern Germany, in 2020./AFP
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Jul 22, 2021 - 06:11 AM

WASHINGTON — The United States and Germany have reached a deal on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that warns Russia of sanctions and seeks to extend transit of gas through Ukraine, a US official said Wednesday.

Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said that full details would be announced later Wednesday of an agreement that aims to address long-running US concerns over the nearly complete pipeline between Russia and Germany.

“This is a bad situation and a bad pipeline but we need to help protect Ukraine and I feel that we have made some significant steps in that direction,” Nuland told a Senate hearing amid swift criticism by Republican lawmakers.

US President Joe Biden, who welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, has waived most sanctions on Nord Stream required by Congress, arguing that it was already near completion and that it was better to work with Germany.

The pipeline through the Baltic Sea has been vigorously opposed by Ukraine, which has been battling pro-Moscow separatists since 2014 and sees the transit of Russian gas through its territory as vital leverage.

“Germany has committed in this agreement with us that should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take actions 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,” Nuland said.

Nuland said that Germany had also agreed to work alongside the United States to press Russia to extend by 10 years a transit agreement through Ukraine that is due to expire at the end of 2024.

The White House announced later Wednesday that Biden will receive Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on August 30.

Another top State Department official, Derek Chollet, headed this week both to Ukraine and Poland to discuss the agreement on the pipeline.

Nuland said that the agreement will also have “concrete” financial figures on helping Ukraine diversify energy supplies.

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