American and German officials announced an agreement Wednesday allowing the completion of a controversial natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, outraging Republican lawmakers who see the deal as a further concession by the Biden administration to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a joint statement outlining the agreement terms, Washington and Berlin vowed to counter any effort by Moscow to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to “aggressive political ends by using energy as a weapon.”
Both governments also said they would support a $1 billion fund for alternative energy and development projects in Ukraine, which is bypassed by the new pipeline, while Germany promised to reimburse Kiev for lost gas transit fees until 2024, with a possible 10-year extension.
“The United States and Germany are united in their determination to hold Russia to account for its aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools,” the statement read in part.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, blasted the deal Wednesday as “a terrible mistake” and “just another example of the pathetic appeasement of Joe Biden for Vladimir Putin.”
Sen. Tom Cotton called the Nord Stream 2 deal a “terrible mistake.”AP Photo/Alex Brandon
“First, it’s going to cost American jobs,” Cotton told Fox News’ “The Faulkner Focus”. “We produce natural gas in this country in enough quantities that we can export it. We could be selling our gas to Germany and Western Europe. Now Vladimir Putin’s going to sell it to Europe. Second, it’ll hook Germany and other Western European countries even more deeply on Russian gas, which means we won’t have as much leverage over Russia in tough times. Third, it badly undercuts our allies and partners in Eastern Europe like Poland and Ukraine.”
“Consider what might happen if the winter’s cold this coming year, and Vladimir Putin threatens to turn off the gas going into Germany, threatens to turn off the gas that goes across Ukraine or Poland …,” Cotton added.
“Vladimir Putin now has a lot more leverage against our European partners, and it gives him a freer hand in places like Ukraine or Central Asian countries. So Vladimir Putin has a lot more leverage and it sends the wrong signal to the rest of the world as well, that Joe Biden is not tough enough to stand up for America’s interests and to defend our allies.”
Sen. Ted Cruz claimed the deal was proof that President Biden “is in bed with Putin.”AP
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), described the agreement as “a generational geopolitical win for Putin and a catastrophe for the United States and our allies. President Biden is defying US law and has utterly surrendered to Putin. Decades from now, Russian dictators will still be reaping billions from Biden’s gift, and Europe will still be subject to Russian energy blackmail.
“We always knew Biden was in bed with Putin, now they’re spooning,” Cruz added.
“Opposing Russia’s growing influence over Europe should be a no-brainer, but Joe Biden just gifted Putin the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” tweeted former South Carolina governor and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
“Biden killed thousands of American jobs by shutting down Keystone XL and harmed our energy independence but now he’s making Russia rich.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that Russia “will use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a weapon of coercion against Ukraine and transatlantic energy security as soon as it is operational. Promises to invest in future Ukrainian energy projects and ambiguous threats of consequences won’t change that reality.”
Even some Democrats expressed skepticism of the deal.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that she was “not yet convinced that this agreement — or any bilateral agreement — can sufficiently provide assurances to our European allies and minimize the considerable economic impact and security implications of this pipeline’s completion.”
Earlier Wednesday, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland categorically denied reports that Ukraine had been warned against publicly complaining about the agreement. Meanwhile, the White House announced that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would meet with Biden in Washington Aug. 30.
In May, the State Department announced that it was scrapping sanctions against Russia-owned, Switzerland-based Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, Matthias Warnig, a former East German secret police officer with close ties to Putin.
A deal was reached between American and German officials allowing the controversial pipeline to be completed.REUTERS
As recently as March of this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the pipeline, which would run under the Baltic Sea, as “a Russian geopolitical project intended to divide Europe and weaken European energy security.”
However, President Biden told reporters two months later that because the pipeline was “almost completely finished,” sanctions would be “counterproductive now in terms of our European relations.”
Germany successfully resisted US pressure to walk away from the pipeline, which is being built by the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom, the parent company of Nord Stream 2 AG. Germany is the sixth-largest energy consumer in the world and the largest consumer of natural gas.
With Post wires