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World Merkel Leaves Biden With Nord Stream 2 Headache As Fears Remain About Russia

12:49  17 july  2021
12:49  17 july  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

Merkel visits White House in swan song

  Merkel visits White House in swan song Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the White House in her diplomatic swan song Thursday, underlining how important the veteran German leader has been to the transatlantic relationship, but also highlighting the unanswered questions she leaves behind. The White House insists this is "very much a working visit," rather than a ceremonial farewell for the woman widely seen as Europe's steadiest leader during almost 16 years at the helm of the continent's biggest economy. She and Biden will discuss climate change, Covid-19 vaccine distribution, and the future of Afghanistan now that US, German and other foreign troops are leaving.

President Joe Biden may have said that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stand together against Russian aggression, but the pair remain divided on a gas pipeline that critics fear will give the geopolitical upper hand to Moscow.

Angela Merkel, Joe Biden are posing for a picture: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden at the White House on July 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. The pair disagree over the fate of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden at the White House on July 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. The pair disagree over the fate of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Biden's comments at Thursday's press conference during Merkel's likely last visit to the White House referred, in particular, to defending NATO against the threat posed by Moscow.

Biden honors Merkel's "Historical" Chancellor

 Biden honors Merkel's No "Washington Explanation", no compromise to North Stream 2 - the visit of Chancellor Merkel at US President Biden was rather low result. There were many warm words for that. © Susan Walsh / AP / Picture Alliance Provided by Deutsche Wave US President Joe Biden has appreciated the political life's work of Chancellor Angela Merkel. This has a "historical character," said biders on the Joint Press Conference with Merkel in Washington .

But opponents of the Nord Stream 2 project led by Russian state energy company Gazprom and its partners, which would pipe gas between the Russian Arctic to Germany, say it would give the Kremlin as much leverage as any military advantage.

"Good friends can disagree," Biden said on Thursday after the pair failed to settle their differences on the $11 billion project.

Still, Biden did say that the pair are "absolutely united in our conviction" that Russia could not use its energy as a political tool against its neighbors.

The pipeline has been a friction point between Berlin and Washington for some time. Germany sees it as a way to secure a relatively low-cost supply of gas at a time when European producers are reducing output.

Controversial pipeline: Merkel and Europe gain pyrrhusieg in the fight for North Stream 2

 Controversial pipeline: Merkel and Europe gain pyrrhusieg in the fight for North Stream 2 The almost finished gas pipeline creates facts that can not ignore US President Joe Biden. The teaching from the dispute: promote before more approval. © dpa Lieferenschiff in the harbor Mukran on the island of Rügen. Nord Stream 2 is shortly before completion. "Such a victory, and we are lost," said King Pyrrhus after his lossy battle against the Romans.

However, both Biden and the Trump administration before him, as well as Germany's neighbors and some U.S. lawmakers, fear Russia may use the 764-mile pipeline to exert pressure on Europe.

Merkel, in turn, has faced pressure domestically to put a spanner in the project following the poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition politician, Alexei Navalny.


Video: Merkel, Biden face tough talks on Russian gas pipeline, China (The Independent)

She also tried to allay concerns that Ukraine would be adversely affected by the pipeline, which bypasses it, thus depriving Kyiv of vital transit fees. After meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week in Berlin, she insisted that Ukraine must stay a transit country and Germany would "actively" respond if Russia did not respect its sovereign rights.

Meanwhile, Biden said he and Merkel had asked their teams to examine whether Europe's energy security is "strengthened or weakened" based on Russian actions, CNBC reported.

Richard Grenell: Germany's Angela Merkel and the tragic evolution of the Western European alliance

  Richard Grenell: Germany's Angela Merkel and the tragic evolution of the Western European alliance Angela Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany for 16 years. She will visit the White House Thursday for the last time as a leader because she is stepping down in September. I was with Chancellor Merkel when President Trump gave her a private tour of his White House residence in 2018. I saw how President Trump used humor and facts to present her with the American people’s frustration that Germany refused to pay its NATO obligations while also buying worrying amounts of gas from Russia.

However, pressure is building on the Biden administration not to be seen to be handing the Kremlin an advantage, while keeping good relations with Germany.

Biden was criticized in May by Republicans and Democrats after waiving sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its German Chief Executive Officer Matthias Warnig, who is an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

The waiver was to allow time to work out a deal with Germany but no agreement was forthcoming in time for Merkel's visit, Reuters reported.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said he is holding up Biden's nominees for ambassador posts until the sanctions are put in place.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who chairs the foreign relations committee, urged the administration in May to "move forward with the congressionally mandated sanctions."

Following the announcement of the waivers in May, the State Department told Newsweek that the administration was still committed to opposing Nord Stream 2.

It also emphasized it had imposed measures on the "largest number of entities to date under the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act." This included four Russian entities and four Russian vessels.

Biden and Merkel 'united against Russia aggression'

  Biden and Merkel 'united against Russia aggression' The German leader, whose retirement is expected this year, has worked with four US presidents.Mr Biden said he voiced concern to Ms Merkel over a Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, but they agreed Moscow cannot be allowed to use energy as a weapon.

Newsweek has contacted the State Department for further comment.

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  • Angela Merkel Doesn't Think U.S., Germany Will Come to Quick Agreement on Disputed Pipeline

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