The U.S. has lifted sanctions on Nord Stream 2’s natural pipeline company, Biden’s chief of staff said, a change that removes the big bone between Washington and Berlin.
“I am convinced that it is in the United States’ best interest in dismissing the project,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, referring to Nord Stream 2 AG, the project’s management company, and senior Matthias Warnig and company executives.
Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, hailed the “best way” in which the US “considered the best relations we have ever had with Biden”.
Nord Stream 2 will bring Russian gas directly across the Baltic Sea, across Ukraine. Warnig, a former East German Stasi intelligence worker, is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The U.S. Department of State has submitted its 90-day report to Congress outlining the recommendations. The list included Russian ships laying pipeline, but it saved the construction company.
The result showed the US was “approaching”, Maas said. “This shows that Germany is an important ally in the United States, which can be relied on in the future.”
Nord Stream 2 was “the only story that [Germany and the US] we have a big difference in this regard ”, and the hope in both countries was that the project“ would never again undermine a very good relationship. [between us] in any case “, he added.
U.S. President Joe Biden has always criticized Nord Stream 2, calling it “the worst thing in Europe”. The US says the pipelines have seized Kyiv money to finance the movement of the economy and created a threat in the Kremlin. US officials have also said it will help Europe to rely on Russian imports.
“Our opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not been shaken,” Blinken said, despite his approval.
The head of the state department said Wednesday that “to prevent this [project] he has been shooting for a long time ”.
“Our actions today have shown that we continue to oppose the pipeline work, as well as the President’s commitment to rebuilding relations with our European allies,” he added.
Blinken spoke to Maas on Tuesday, and a spokesman for the state department said he was “committed to the US commitment to work with allies and allies to end Russia’s attempts to undermine our security”. “In those veins, [he] confirmed that the US is opposed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “the spokesman said.
But the idea of lifting sanctions shows that Washington is unwilling to put a destructive argument on the project with one of its closest allies. Germany is supporting the pipeline, which it says is a key pillar of its security, and has criticized US sanctions against the project, calling it an inappropriate interference in its internal affairs.
The release story was received by Capitol Hill, while opponents of Nord Stream 2 are one of the few things Democrats and Republicans agree on.
This letter twice a week
Energy is the most important business in the world and Source Source is his story. Every Tuesday and Thursday, directly in your email, Energy Source brings you important news, future analysis and insights. Sign in here.
Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement saying he was opposed to Biden’s decision to abolish sanctions and failed to see how the idea could advance US action against Russia’s atrocities in Europe.
Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican, said the withdrawal would indicate that the US government was not preparing to ban the operation. “If the Putin government is allowed to finish this pipeline, it will be because Biden’s management decided to make it happen,” he said.
“Two months ago, President Biden called Putin a ‘murderer,’ but today he wants to give Putin, his government, and his allies a greater power in Europe,” said Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican senator.
The discount only lasts for the next 90 days. But Germany is confident that this will give the two countries time to resolve their differences over Nord Stream 2.
Maas said the US and Germany should now use the remaining time until the next 90-day report to discuss the “challenges facing the project”, especially how it has “left Ukraine under threat”.
“We have three months now. . . “Talk to the Washington authorities about our progress and how our two governments can coordinate the various responsibilities available in Washington and Berlin on this issue,” he said.