Critical Overview: US and Germany Agree on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline
The United States and Germany recently announced an agreement on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which aims to address the strategic risks of the $11 billion pipeline being built under the Baltic Sea to carry gas from Russia’s Arctic region to Germany. The deal contains measures to mitigate the risks, including Berlin’s pledge to respond to any attempt by Russia to use energy as a weapon against Ukraine and other Central and Eastern European countries.
While U.S. officials opposed the pipeline, President Joe Biden’s administration chose not to impose sanctions on Russia or prevent its completion. Instead, it negotiated the pact with Germany to impose costs on Russia if it seeks to use the pipeline to harm Ukraine or other countries in the region. However, Ukraine has expressed concerns about the agreement and seeks talks with both the European Union and Germany over the pipeline.
The joint statement by the United States and Germany asserts their commitment to hold Russia accountable for its aggressive actions by imposing costs through sanctions and other tools if Russia attempts to “use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.” The statement did not outline the specific Russian actions that would trigger such a response.
Under the agreement, Germany pledged to use all available leverage to extend the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement, a significant source of revenue for Ukraine that expires in 2024, by ten years. Additionally, Germany will contribute at least $175 million to a new $1 billion Green Fund for Ukraine, which aims to improve the country’s energy independence.
Ukraine expressed its opposition to the pipeline, calling it a threat to its security. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is scheduled to meet with President Biden in Washington next month to discuss the issue.
Conclusion: Lawmaker Opposition, Environmental Concerns, and Insufficient Mitigation
Details of the agreement between the United States and Germany have drawn criticism from lawmakers in both countries. Republican Senator Ted Cruz believes that the agreement is a geopolitical win for Putin and a catastrophe for the United States and its allies. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen is not convinced the agreement will be enough to mitigate the impact of the pipeline and claims that it will “empower the Kremlin to spread its malign influence throughout Eastern Europe.”
Some top members of the environmentalist Greens party in Germany called the agreement “a bitter setback for climate protection” that would benefit Putin and weaken Ukraine.
The Biden administration insists that the pipeline was too close to completion when it took office to prevent it, but this has not prevented opposition to the agreement. While the United States and Germany hope the agreement will mitigate the risks of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, concerns remain about its impact on Ukraine and the environment.