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US Disagrees With Germany on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, Seeing It as ‘Threat to Europe’s Energy Security’

Brittany Jordan

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington disagrees with Germany on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, calling it a threat to Europe’s energy security, adding that both countries had agreed to ensure that Russia cannot use energy as a coercive tool against Ukraine or other states.

Blinken met in Berlin with his German counterpart Heiko Maas and discussed U.S.–German relations, but there was no sign of progress in talks to overcome the impasse over Nord Stream 2. And neither Blinken nor Maas could offer a timetable for a possible resolution.

“We don’t always agree. The foreign minister and I spoke today about one of those areas of disagreement, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which we continue to believe is a threat to Europe’s energy security,” Blinken said at the joint press conference after their meeting.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Lisbon on May 27, 2021. (Armando Franca/AP Photo)

Mass said that Germany is aware that Washington expects Germany to prevent misuse of the pipeline by Russia and his country wants to make a contribution in that regard.

Germany will ensure that there is an alternative gas transit agreement via Ukraine and it will continue to stand once Nord Stream 2 becomes operational, the foreign minister said. The talks on this issue between the two countries have already started, he added.

Ideally, a resolution could be reached by the time outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington next month, Maas said, adding that the timing was only provisional.

Later on Wednesday, Blinken met with Merkel and neither mentioned the pipeline in brief welcoming remarks.

Blinken said that the reason for waiving sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, its CEO, and corporate officers was that the pipeline was more than 90 percent complete at the time Biden took office.

Richard Grenell
Then-U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell in Berlin on Nov. 8, 2019. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A Controversial Pipeline

For decades, the United States has been trying to ensure that Europe has diversified energy sources, said Richard Grenell, former acting director of National Intelligence and the U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2018 to 2020.

“Some Russian energy should be included in that diversification mix for Europe,” he said.

Therefore the construction of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was appropriate, Grenell told the Poland-based Warsaw Institute, but Nord Stream 2 goes too far by giving Russia too much leverage, he added.

It is “too much feeding of the beast of Russia, by allowing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed,” Grenell added.

For decades, U.S. policy has been to ensure that NATO is free of Russian leverage and manipulation and that there are no “problems in Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and around the world,” Grenell said.

The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project
The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a large diameter pipe at Chelyabinsk Pipe Rolling Plant owned by ChelPipe Group in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

“This is why the United States has stood firmly against Nord Stream 2,” a stance that “protects Europe from being manipulated by the Russians,” the former ambassador to Germany said. “And we all know that Russia will look for ways to manipulate others and to use that leverage to their advantage.”

It was very puzzling to the U.S. government why the German government does not see that, Grenell said. He added that it is also disappointing and shocking to see that Germany not only ignores the leverage that has been placed over them by Russia through Nord Stream 2, but it also does not pay its fair share at NATO, according to Grenell.

Germany was spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on defense in 2016 while former President Donald Trump strongly advocated that each NATO member should spend two percent of its GDP on defense as all allies committed to in 2014. The U.S. share in NATO at that time was 3.51 percent of its GDP.

“Now, many countries, including Germany did not get to their 2 percent obligation, but they increased their spending, they increased towards that goal,” Grenell said, adding that Trump made NATO stronger compared to his predecessor.

“German people do not always agree with the German government on this issue. … Some believe in the transatlantic alliance and want to see it flourish.”

Grenell believes that the German government does not perceive threats from Russia the way that the transatlantic alliance sees them. Similarly, the German government leads the effort to make a normalization agreement with Iran because it wants to trade with Iran and does not consider it a threat as the Alliance does, he pointed out.

In his opinion, the Germans have worked very hard to follow a “Germany first” economic model and “have ignored many in Europe, who call for greater sharing of the burden.”

According to Grenell, the German people love to work hard and believe in capitalism “so they share a lot with the Americans.” Americans also pushed hard for free and unified Germany in the past, he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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