Workers during the production process of pipes at the Nord Stream 2 facility at Mukran on Ruegen Islandon in Sassnitz, Germany.
Carsten Koall | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – The United States and Germany reached an agreement to allow completion of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a thorny, long-standing point of contention between the otherwise stalwart allies.
The agreement reached between Washington and Berlin, which was announced on Wednesday, aims to invest more than 200 million euros in energy security in Ukraine as well as sustainable energy across Europe.
“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,” a senior State Department official said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.
The senior State Department official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the agreement candidly, added that the U.S. will retain the prerogative of levying sanctions, as well, in the case if Russia uses energy as a tool of coercion.
The official said the United States and Germany are “resolutely committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine and therefore, consulted closely with Kyiv on this matter.
The unease surrounding the nearly complete Nord Stream 2 project, a sprawling undersea pipeline that will pump Russian gas directly into Germany, stems from Moscow’s history of using the energy sector to gain leverage over Russia’s neighbors, namely Ukraine.
When completed, the undersea pipeline will span 764 miles from Russia to Germany, making it one of the longest offshore gas pipelines in the world. Last month, the Kremlin said that only 62 miles of Nord Stream 2 were left to build.
In May, the United States waived sanctions on the Swiss-based company Nord Stream 2 AG, which is running the pipeline project, and its German chief executive. The waiver gave Berlin and Washington three more months to reach an agreement on Nord Stream 2.
The agreement comes on the heels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House, the first by a European leader since Biden took office and likely her last trip to Washington after nearly 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy.
Merkel, the first woman to lead Germany, has previously said she will step down after the September national elections.
During a joint press conference at the White House, Merkel pledged to take a tough stance against Russia if Moscow misused the energy sector for political gains.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy next month.
Ahead of the July 15 meeting, Biden administration officials and representatives from Germany told CNBC that the leaders of the world’s largest and fourth-largest economies were anxious to rebuild a frayed transatlantic…