Nord Stream 2 Still Mired In Controversy

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Nord Stream 2 Still Mired In Controversy

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 12:38
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Route of Nord Stream 2 (copyright by Shutterstock/MurzilA)
Route of Nord Stream 2 (copyright by Shutterstock/MurzilA)

After all was said and done, even after U.S. President Joe Biden lifted remaining sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and after the United States and Germany together attempted to mitigate perceived strategic dangers of the 1230-km gas pipeline, the controversy surrounding Nord Stream 2 has seemingly no end in sight.

If Russia attempts to "use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine," Germany will take steps on its own and push for actions at the EU, including sanctions, "to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector," an official statement from the German Chancellory said.

Germany will "utilize all available leverage" to extend by 10 years the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement, a source of major revenues to Ukraine that expires in 2024, and Germany will also contribute at least $175 million to a new $1 billion "Green Fund for Ukraine" aimed at improving the country's energy independence. The Ukraine, for its part, said it sent notes to Brussels and Berlin calling for consultations, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet, adding the pipeline "threatens Ukraine's security."

Within Germany, top members of the environmentalist Greens party called the reported agreement "a bitter setback for climate protection" that would benefit Putin and weaken Ukraine.   Annalena Baerbock, Chancellor candidate of the Greens, added that the pipeline does not yet have EU regulatory clearance, especially since there is no provision for Third Party Access.  International pipelines, according to the 2009 EU Gas Directive, cannot be owned by their suppliers, thus in the case of Nord Stream 2 by the the Russian giant Gazprom.  So it is still within Germany's hand to stop the Nord Stream 2 project.  According to the latest polls in Germany, the Greens still top the Christian conservatives in the campaign for the Chancellory.

In the United States, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who has been holding up Biden's ambassadorial nominations over his concerns about Nord Stream 2, said the reported agreement would be "a generational geopolitical win for Putin and a catastrophe for the United States and our allies."

Cruz and some other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are furious with Joe Biden for waiving congressionally mandated sanctions against the pipeline and are working on ways to force the administration's hand on sanctions, according to congressional aides.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said she was not convinced the agreement would mitigate the impact of the pipeline, which she said "empowers the Kremlin to spread its malign influence throughout Eastern Europe."

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