Biden warns Russia not to weaponise Nord Stream 2
US president Joe Biden said July 15 that Russia, through its Nord Stream 2 pipeline, should be prevented from using energy “as a weapon.”
Biden welcomed outgoing German chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House this week. Germany is at the receiving end of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, part of a broader network that delivers Russian natural gas to Europe through the Baltic Sea.
“While I reiterated my concerns about Nord Stream 2, chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our conviction that Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbours,” the US president said.
Nord Stream 2 is the second string of a dual-pipeline system already in service. Its Russian operator Nord Stream 2 AG said it expected construction to be completed by August.
On one hand, Nord Stream 2 avoids geopolitically sensitive pipeline networks that run through Ukraine. On the other, critics argue it starves Ukraine of gas-transit revenue and builds up the Russian influence in the European energy market. Biden since taking office in January has been reluctant to impose additional sanctions on a project that is nearly finished, opting instead for a more political approach.
“It made more sense to work with the chancellor on finding out how she’d proceed based on whether or not Russia tried to, essentially, blackmail Ukraine in some way,” he said.
For Merkel, the issue is less about European energy security and more about ensuring Ukraine enjoys a sustainable position in the market.
“We’ve come to different assessments as to what this project entails,” she said in a joint press briefing with Biden. “But let me say very clearly: Our idea is and remains that Ukraine remains a transit country for natural gas.”
Some test operations in preparation of gas deliveries to Germany were completed in June. The first of the two Nord Stream 2 lines – each can carry 27.5bn m³/yr – is ready for filling with gas.