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U.S. and Germany Reach a Deal on Putin’s Pipeline Project

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U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House, July 15, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters) The proposed agreement will only intensify Ukrainian, Polish, and congressional fears of appeasement.

As the Russia-backed Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline nears completion, likely by next month, the U.S. and Germany have struck a deal that would resolve their years-long dispute over the project, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A draft proposal under consideration by Washington and Berlin, which was obtained by Bloomberg, would commit Germany to retaliating against future Kremlin efforts to weaponize energy flows against Ukraine. According to the proposal, in such a situation, Germany would potentially respond by cutting off gas flows from Russia.

But the agreement will face major opposition, including from bipartisan critics in Congress and U.S. allies who might vocally object to it. These two groups view Nord Stream 2 as a malign, authoritarian influence project that would put frontline states at the mercy of Russian gas flows and increase Europe’s dependence on Moscow.

Curiously, the Biden administration sees it this way, too, but still takes a stance deferent to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fierce advocacy for it and opposition to U.S. sanctions that would target European companies and individuals involved in its construction. Responding to the reports on a potential agreement during a press briefing this afternoon, State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated that criticism: “We have made no bones about the fact that it is a bad deal for Germany. It is a bad deal for Ukraine and for Europe more broadly.”

Ukraine stands to lose some of the revenue it makes from transit fees from the gas pipelines that currently run through its territory. The country’s leaders also worry that the completion of Nord Stream 2, which bypasses Ukraine, would detract from some of the leverage it needs to deal with the ongoing Russian military threat.

Still, the administration has consistently deferred to German sensitivities, if not rhetorically, then in practice. In May, it waived sanctions on the project’s

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