By Jennifer Hansler, CNN
The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his counterparts from eight European countries slammed an agreement by Washington and Berlin that will allow the completion of Nord Stream 2, the controversial natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The joint statement from SFRC Chairman Robert Menendez and the chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees in Estonia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania offers an extensive rebuke of the deal announced by the Biden administration in late July, wherein Germany agreed to take a series of measures meant to mitigate the risks to European energy security, to Ukraine, and to European Union and NATO countries close to Russian borders. In the past, Russia has cut off energy supplies to other countries, including Ukraine.
The joint statement said that the completion of Nord Stream 2 “will strengthen the impact of Russian gas in the European energy mix, endanger the national security of EU member states and the United States, and threaten the already precarious security and sovereignty of Ukraine,” saying it “will give Russia yet another tool to pressure and blackmail Ukraine.”
“We need to make a collective commitment to increase support to the security and defence capabilities of Ukraine in order to prevent a deepening of the current security crisis, exacerbated by the threats created by Nord Stream 2.”
The chairpersons “insist that any further agreements on Nord Stream 2 necessitate consultations across the transatlantic family. Moreover, such diplomacy should happen with the fundamental principle in mind – countering malign Russian aggression is in all of NATO’s, all EU members, and our partners in Central and Eastern Europe vital national security interests.”
The joint statement called “for commitments from NATO to strengthen deterrence, especially on the Eastern Flank from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea” and a commitment “to delivering a road map for Ukraine’s path towards joining the NATO alliance, if Ukraine makes the necessary reforms and meets NATO membership standards.”
“To consolidate the transformation efforts of the Ukrainian government as well as democracy and human rights in the region, we call for a European Union membership perspective to be agreed upon for Ukraine,” it said.
Biden administration officials have maintained opposition to the pipeline, but have said that the project was too far along to stop its completion.
“Nord Stream is 99% finished. The idea that anything was going to be said or done was going to stop it was not possible,” President Joe Biden said. “But I had, as you know, very, very fruitful discussions with Angela Merkel and she’s working, and the German government, on a commitment that suggests that if in fact Russia takes pains to deliberately inflict pain on Ukraine or other countries they will respond.”
A senior State Department official said at the time the agreement with Berlin was announced that they “reached the judgment that sanctions would not stop its construction and risked undermining a critical alliance with Germany, as well as with the EU and other European allies.”
The decision garnered anger and opposition bipartisan US lawmakers as well as from Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, whose President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to visit the White House at the end of August.
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