Berlin, 23 June 2021 (dpa/MIA) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that Russia could use energy as a lever of power against Ukraine in the dispute about the planned Nord Stream 2 German-Russian gas pipeline.
“Our goal remains to ensure that Russia cannot use energy as [a] coercive tool, as a weapon against Ukraine, or anyone else in Europe,” Blinken said on Wednesday after meeting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. It is Blinken‘s inaugural visit to Germany as secretary of state.
“We continue to to believe that the pipeline is ultimately a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security and potentially undermines the security of Ukraine and other countries in the region,” he said.
Referring to the disagreement on this point between Washington and Berlin, Blinken stressed: “Germany has a different perspective. And that happens from time to time among friends.”
Maas said that the aim was to reach results “that can also be supported in Washington.” There are a number of possibilities and approaches that are being discussed, he said.
The planned visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the United States in July would be a suitable time to achieve results, Maas added.
In addition to Maas, Blinken also wanted to meet the chancellor on Wednesday and take part in a conference on the Libyan conflict taking place in Berlin.
For years, the US has been opposed to the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline, which is supposed to pump gas from Russia to Germany bypassing Ukraine.
Nevertheless, in May, the new administration of US President Joe Biden partially gave up years of US opposition to the project and waived sanctions against the operating company – also out of consideration for relations with Germany.
Since then, talks have been under way between Germany and the US on how to proceed.
In essence, the issue is how to secure long-term revenues for Ukraine as the previous transit country, since it is dependent on the billions in Russian payments for the gas transfer. The corresponding contract between Russia and Ukraine runs out in 2024.
On Thursday, Maas and Blinken plan to sign an agreement at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe on closer cooperation between their two countries on Holocaust remembrance.
Also on Wednesday, Economics Minister Peter Altmaier plans to depart for a trip to Washington.
Merkel is planning her trip to the US for July 15. She met Biden the weekend before last for a first personal conversation on the fringes of the G20 summit in Britain.