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    Oil prices, Nord Stream 2 off the table for Biden, Putin


Kremlin spokesman says only ‘fundamental positions’ were reviewed during a summit in Geneva.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Oil prices, Nord Stream 2 off the table for Biden, Putin

Though oil and natural gas issues intersect with national security objectives for both sides, there was no discussion related to energy between presidents Biden and Putin, a Kremlin spokesman said June 18.

Russia and Saudi Arabia lead a handful of producers both in and outside of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that seek to manage market volatility through production restraint. With demand rising and production sidelined, the price for Brent crude oil is nearing $75/barrel, a multi-year high that is reflective of the broad-based concerns that runaway inflation could jeopardise the global economic recovery.

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin, said the hours-long meeting between both leaders focused only on what he said were fundamental issues.

"Topics were addressed," he was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying. "The fundamental position was laid down. There was an exchange of these fundamental positions.

Asked whether the topic of oil prices was discussed, Peskov replied in the negative.

“No, this topic has not been highlighted this time,” he said.

Biden and Putin sought to reset diplomatic relations during a summit in Geneva. From alleged US election interference, to cybersecurity and human rights, both sides recognised that adversaries can discuss their issues amicably.

“President Putin and I share a unique responsibility to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries — a relationship that has to be stable and predictable,” Biden said June 16.

Off the table too were transparent discussions about the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. The Russian gas pipeline is a concern for Western allies wary of Moscow’s grip on the European energy sector and the target of US sanctions.

With terminal points in Germany, the pipeline is nearly completed. By mid-May, the US State Department signalled it would not expand sanctions to include the Nord Stream 2 AG operating company, instead continuing to target only the Russian ships involved in laying the pipeline.

Speaking to reporters May 25, Biden explained his position on the pipeline.

“I have been opposed to Nord Stream 2 from the beginning, but it only has – it’s almost completed by the time I took office,” he said. “And to go ahead and impose sanctions now, I think, would be counterproductive now in terms of our European relations.”