Ukraine hits back as US, Germany reach deal on Nord Stream 2

Kyiv invokes right to hold formal talks with Brussels and Berlin, and says attempts to allay concerns 'cannot be considered sufficient.'

Ukraine hits back as US, Germany reach deal on Nord Stream 2

The U.S. and Germany reached a deal Wednesday on a controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Europe, seeking to placate critics in Washington and Central and Eastern Europe who fear it will mainly benefit Moscow. But Kyiv isn’t having it.

Ukraine has demanded formal talks with Brussels and Berlin on the pipeline, known as Nord Stream 2, invoking a clause of its agreement with the EU on political association and economic integration. Kyiv’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, also sent a joint statement with his counterpart in Poland, saying efforts to allay their concerns “cannot be considered sufficient.”

The Ukrainian-Polish statement says U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to stop opposing the pipeline “has created 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 NATO and European Union member states.”

The deal, which comes after years of opposition from the U.S., aims to settle concerns about the pipeline that is 98 percent complete. Those include worries about energy security in the region — and the economic blow to Ukraine once Moscow stops paying Kyiv billions annually to use Ukrainian pipelines to ship gas into the EU.

The agreement includes promises that Germany will take action at the national level and press for EU sanctions should Russia “use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.” It also lays out a new U.S.-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership that will focus on reducing reliance on Russia for energy by speeding up the green transitions of countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Biden’s team had pushed to finalize the agreement before August 19, when the next legally mandated sanctions report on Nord Stream 2 must be delivered to Congress. The president came under heavy fire from U.S. lawmakers in May for waiving penalties on Nord Stream 2 and affiliated companies in the name of national security — and faced further complaints once the German deal was published.

Derek Chollet, a U.S. State Department counselor, is visiting Kyiv and Warsaw this week in an attempt to obtain regional support for the deal — an effort that has so far been unsuccessful.

The Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee published a three-page statement late Wednesday calling on the U.S., Germany and the EU to halt the pipeline, which it called “inadmissible.” 

Details of the deal

Under the deal reached with Washington, Germany promised to abide by the “letter and spirit” of EU gas liberalization rules when assessing Nord Stream 2 for compliance, including “an assessment of any risks posed by certification of the project operator to the security of energy supply of the EU.”

It will also appoint a special envoy by September 1 to negotiate extending the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement through 2034. Last year that agreement netted €2.11 billion in revenue for Kyiv.

To help bolster Kyiv’s green transition, Berlin said it will establish and administer a so-called Green Fund for the country, providing an initial $175 million donation and working to generate at least $1 billion from other sources, including the private sector. Plus, Ukraine will receive an additional $70 million from Germany to transition away from coal and support bilateral energy projects.

“Germany is also ready to launch a Ukraine Resilience Package to support Ukraine’s energy security” by cyber-proofing its gas pipeline infrastructure and enabling reverse flows from the EU into Ukraine, should Russia ever attempt to cut off supplies flowing west, the agreement says.

Germany will consider financially supporting the Three Seas Initiative for regional energy security, and will contribute up to $1.77 billion to support projects of common interest in the energy sector via the EU budget.

David Herszenhorn contributed reporting.

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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy to visit Biden at White House in August

The meeting will come at a delicate moment for the two leaders, as tensions flare over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy to visit Biden at White House in August

WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden next month in Washington, D.C., the White House announced on Wednesday.

The news of Zelenskiy’s White House visit, scheduled for Aug. 30, comes at a delicate moment in the alliance between Washington and Kyiv, as the United States nears a deal with Germany on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Ukraine has expressed concerns about the project, which would deliver inexpensive natural gas from Russia to Germany via a 764-mile-long pipeline under the Baltic Sea — potentially reducing Ukraine’s role in regional energy commerce.

But Germany has argued the completion of Nord Stream 2 is vital to its energy security, and Russia views the pipeline as a means of expanding its influence across Europe while raking in revenue.

Amid negotiations between Washington and Berlin over the project, U.S. officials have quietly urged their counterparts in Kyiv to refrain from public criticism of the potential pact — warning that such dissent could damage the Washington-Kyiv relationship.

Biden first extended the invitation for Zelenskiy to visit the White House last month, ahead of Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. At the time, Zelenskiy had been critical of the Biden-Putin meeting and scolded the U.S. for waiving sanctions related to the construction of the Nord Stream 2.

Biden responded by speaking with Zelenskiy before sitting down with Putin, assuring him of America’s “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” in the face of Russian aggression. In that conversation, Biden also invited Zelenskiy to visit the White House sometime this summer.

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