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Merkel welcomes deal with US government on Nord Stream 2 as good step

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the agreement reached with the US government on the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline, which will deliver natural gas from Russia, as a good step.

Berlin, 22 July 2021 (dpa/MIA) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the agreement reached with the US government on the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline, which will deliver natural gas from Russia, as a good step.

However, it does not overcome all differences between the allies, Merkel said in Berlin on Thursday, describing the deal as an attempt to establish certain conditions, which would have to be implemented.

The two countries, which have been at loggerheads for years over Nord Stream 2, announced a deal on Wednesday in which they vowed to take measures should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.

They also said they will work with Ukraine to mitigate the impact of the new Baltic Sea pipeline, which could be completed as soon as next month, because at present Ukraine relies on billions in revenue from the transit of Russian gas through its territory.

In the US, there has long been bipartisan criticism of Nord Stream 2, so the agreement is likely to face strong opposition in Congress. There, many Republicans reject the project and are demanding sanctions, as do some of President Joe Biden’s Democrats.

Critics see the pipeline as a Russian geopolitical project that endangers Europe’s energy security. They also complain that the pipeline could harm Ukraine.

It was important that Ukraine remained a gas transit country and that energy could not be used to put Ukraine in a difficult situation, Merkel said.

Merkel said Russia had made it clear that energy should not be “used as a weapon.” We take Russia at its word, but we are not completely defenseless, Merkel said, referring to the possibilities of sanctions.

The German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, a business association, has also welcomed the agreement.

Chairman Oliver Hermes said on Thursday: “We hope that the US-German understanding now reached on Nord Stream 2 will remove years of uncertainty for the companies involved and finally clear the way for this important European energy project.

“We continue to believe Nord Stream 2 is a key infrastructure for future German and European energy supply.”

In the short term, the pipeline will help offset rapidly declining natural gas production in the Netherlands and Norway, as well as an increasing demand for gas due to the coal and nuclear phase-out, Hermes said.

“In the medium term, the pipeline has great potential to also transport hydrogen and to further develop the decades-long, reliable energy partnership with Russia into a climate partnership.”

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