politico – ‘I’m not happy’: Democrats end deal on Russian Biden pipeline

“I’m not happy with it,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), A member of the Senate armed services and foreign relations committees. “I am not happy in terms of Russian policy, and I am not happy in terms of climate change.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), co-author of the sanctions regime, said she was “skeptical of [the agreement] will be enough when the key player at the table – Russia – refuses to play by the rules. “

The Biden administration has effectively concluded that the pipeline will be completed whether or not the United States decides to shut it down. The deal between the United States and Germany apparently puts the onus on Germany to ensure that Ukraine, which has suffered the full brunt of Russian aggression under Vladimir Putin, does not feel abandoned by the pact. Already, however, Ukraine is hammering the United States and Germany for their “resignation” in their efforts to shut down the pipeline.

Senior administration officials describing the deal said Berlin will appoint a special envoy to help Ukraine negotiate an extension of its gas transit deal with Russia beyond 2024, the year it expires. In progress. Germany will also create and administer a $ 1 billion green fund for Ukraine to support its energy transition beyond fossil fuels, with at least an initial commitment of $ 175 million. Ukraine needs this money because it risk of losing billions in the event of termination of its transit contract with Russia.

There will also be a resilience package of 60 million euros, to effectively protect against cyber attacks. And Germany will step up its engagement with the Three Seas Initiative, a key forum for Central and Eastern European countries to discuss regional issues.

“This pledge is designed to ensure that Russia will not use any pipelines, including Nord Stream 2, to achieve aggressive political goals by using energy as a weapon,” the US and German governments wrote in a joint statement.

Officials also argued that the Trump administration, not the Biden team, is responsible for completing the pipeline. “We’re making the most of a bad hand,” said one, noting that the pipeline was over 90% complete when the Biden administration took office. “And in doing so, we are trying to make sure that we protect our partner, Ukraine, and that is really our priority.”

None of this will satisfy Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have spent the past few days expressing outrage over the leaked details of the US-German deal.

“Once [the pipeline] is in place, the vulnerabilities are going to be there, ”Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a brief interview. “I always thought we should have stopped him. But now we’re at the point where it’s going to be very difficult to prevent its use.

Another leading Democrat, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, said the US-Germany deal “isn’t perfect, but it’s a good result under the circumstances.” The idea that the United States can shut down a 98% complete pipeline, added Murphy, “is based on fantasy, not reality.” He said the severing of relations between the United States and Germany “would have come at a huge and indefensible cost.”

Biden’s deal with Germany drew fierce criticism from Republicans, who accused Biden of “surrendering” to Putin.

“This is a generational geopolitical error,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who co-authored the sanctions and retained Biden State Department candidates to force action on. the pipeline. “Decades from now, Russian dictators will reap billions of dollars each year from Joe Biden’s gift. “

It wasn’t just members of Congress who torched the US-German deal. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a joint statement with his Polish counterpart that the pact “cannot be considered sufficient to effectively limit the threats created by NS2”, and “this crisis is considerably aggravated by the resignation of attempts to stop the launch” of the gas pipeline.

“We call on the United States and Germany to respond adequately to the security crisis in our region, of which Russia is the sole beneficiary,” they added.

The United States and Germany have long disagreed over the risks and benefits of the pipeline. Germany sees it as an economic priority and a way to import cheap energy into the country. The United States, meanwhile, has maintained for several consecutive administrations that the pipeline will undermine European energy security in the long term and only serve Putin’s interests.

“[The deal is] a reminder that although we share many values ​​with our NATO allies and EU partners, our interests are often not aligned, ”Member Representative Anthony Brown (D-Md.) told POLITICO. of the House Armed Services Committee. “I fear that European countries will invariably increase their dependence on Russian national gas, both from a security and climate perspective.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine has been caught in the middle of the pipeline battle. Ukrainian officials said they believe the pipeline may still be choked and the United States should take action to ensure it is never completed.

The Biden administration has tried to keep Ukraine at bay as it struggles to contain the fallout. POLITICS reported Tuesday that US officials urged Ukrainian officials to remain silent on the pact with Germany, warning that public criticism could harm US-Ukraine relations. The United States has also asked Ukraine to refrain from discussing the issue with Congress, where Kiev has many allies.

Responding to POLITICO reports, Mykhailo Podoliak, one of the main advisers to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zekensky, said that “Ukraine is receiving different signals at different levels”. And lawmakers accused the Biden administration of “intimidating” Ukraine.

“This poor and powerless nation in the face of the evil Russian Federation that they described a year ago is no longer, I suppose, for them, a victim”, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Deputy -President of the Senate Intelligence Committee. , said in a brief interview.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier Wednesday, a senior State Department official denied that the United States was pressuring Ukraine. Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, told senators that “I don’t know anyone in the administration who said [the Ukrainians] how to feel or how to talk about it.

In another olive branch in Ukraine, the White House announced Wednesday that Zelensky will meet with Biden on August 30. Zelensky was eagerly awaiting a presidential meeting, which was suspended after the first impeachment case against former President Donald Trump.

“It’s a bad situation and a bad pipeline, but we have to help protect Ukraine and I think we have taken important steps in that direction with this agreement,” Nuland said.

Jonathan Custodio contributed to this report.

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