The US and Germany have reached an agreement about the controversial Russian natural-gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. Contrary to the precedent administrations, it seems that President Joe Biden will stop opposing the project, provided that the energy security of Ukraine and Central and Eastern Europe is safeguarded.
“Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions, to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector, including gas and/or in other economically relevant sectors,” reads the joint statement. “This commitment is designed to ensure that Russia will not misuse any pipeline, including Nord Stream 2, to achieve aggressive political ends by using energy as a weapon.”
In particular, both the US and Germany are said to be united in their belief that it is in Ukraine’s and Europe’s interest for gas transit via Ukraine to continue beyond 2024. Germany has committed to utilise all available leverage to facilitate an extension of up to 10 years to Ukraine’s gas transit agreement with Russia, including appointing a special envoy to support those negotiations.
Furthermore, as part of the newly launched US-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership, the governments have decided to establish a pillar to support the energy transitions in emerging economies.
“This pillar will include a focus on supporting Ukraine and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe,” continues the statement. “These efforts will not only contribute to the fight against climate change but will support European energy security by reducing demand for Russian energy.”
Germany has also committed to establish and administer a Green Fund for Ukraine to support the country’s energy transition, energy efficiency and energy security. Together with the US, they will promote and support investments of at least 1 billion US dollars.
Germany is also ready to launch a Ukraine Resilience Package to support Ukraine’s energy security. This will include efforts to safeguard and increase the capacity for reverse flows of gas to Ukraine, with the aim of shielding Ukraine completely from potential future attempts by Russia to cut gas supplies to the country.
However, Yuriy Vitrenko, chairman of the board of Ukraine’s Naftogaz is a bit sceptical about Germany’s promises and assurances.
“I do not understand how Germany can guarantee the transit of gas through the territory of Ukraine,” he said in an interview. “[…] Nord Stream 2 is a threat to the security of Ukraine and the entire region. This is not a question of compensation, this is a question of regional security.”