Kyiv invokes right to hold formal talks with Brussels and Berlin, and says attempts to allay concerns ‘cannot be considered sufficient.’
By America Hernandez
July 22, 2021
The U.S. and Germany reached a deal Wednesday on a controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Europe, seeking to placate critics in Washington and Central and Eastern Europe who fear it will mainly benefit Moscow. But Kyiv isn’t having it.
Ukraine has demanded formal talks with Brussels and Berlin on the pipeline, known as Nord Stream 2, invoking a clause of its agreement with the EU on political association and economic integration. Kyiv’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, also sent a joint statement with his counterpart in Poland, saying efforts to allay their concerns “cannot be considered sufficient.”
The Ukrainian-Polish statement says U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to stop opposing the pipeline “has created a political, military and energy threat for Ukraine and Central Europe, while increasing Russia’s potential to destabilize the security situation in Europe, perpetuating divisions among NATO and European Union member states.”
The deal, which comes after years of opposition from the U.S., aims to settle concerns about the pipeline that is 98 percent complete. Those include worries about energy security in the region — and the economic blow to Ukraine once Moscow stops paying Kyiv billions annually to use Ukrainian pipelines to ship gas into the EU.
The agreement includes promises that Germany will take action at the national level and press for EU sanctions should Russia “use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.” It also lays out a new U.S.-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership that will focus on reducing reliance on Russia for energy by speeding up the green transitions of countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Biden’s team had pushed to finalize the agreement before August 19, when the next legally mandated sanctions report on Nord Stream 2 must be delivered to Congress. The president came under heavy fire from U.S. lawmakers in May for waiving penalties on Nord Stream 2 and affiliated companies in the name of national security — and faced further complaints once the German deal was published.
Derek Chollet, a U.S. State Department counselor, is visiting Kyiv and Warsaw this week in an attempt to obtain regional support for the deal — an effort that has so far been unsuccessful.
The Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee published a three-page statement late Wednesday calling on the U.S., Germany and the EU to halt the pipeline, which it called “inadmissible.”
Details of the deal
Under the deal reached with Washington, Germany promised to abide by the “letter and spirit” of EU gas liberalization rules when assessing Nord Stream 2 for compliance, including “an assessment of any risks posed by certification of the project operator to the security of energy supply of the EU.”
It will also appoint a special envoy by September 1 to negotiate extending the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement through 2034. Last year that agreement netted €2.11 billion in revenue for Kyiv.
To help bolster Kyiv’s green transition, Berlin said it will establish and administer a so-called Green Fund for the country, providing an initial $175 million donation and working to generate at least $1 billion from other sources, including the private sector. Plus, Ukraine will receive an additional $70 million from Germany to transition away from coal and support bilateral energy projects.
“Germany is also ready to launch a Ukraine Resilience Package to support Ukraine’s energy security” by cyber-proofing its gas pipeline infrastructure and enabling reverse flows from the EU into Ukraine, should Russia ever attempt to cut off supplies flowing west, the agreement says.
Germany will consider financially supporting the Three Seas Initiative for regional energy security, and will contribute up to $1.77 billion to support projects of common interest in the energy sector via the EU budget.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke over the phone on Wednesday to discuss the deal. According to the Kremlin’s readout of the call, Putin “noted Germany’s consistent commitment to implementing the project, which is strictly a commercial venture.”
David Herszenhorn contributed reporting.