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Biden says Nord Stream 2 won’t go forward if Russia invades Ukraine


WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had an awkward exchange with a reporter Monday at the White House over the future of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The discord at a press conference during Scholz’s first visit to the White House was brief and civil. But it also represented a rare public show of genuine friction in a relationship that serves as a cornerstone of European security.

The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany was finished in September of last year, but it has yet to transport any actual gas.

Biden said Monday that Nord Stream 2 would be scrapped if Russia launches a military invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow’s troop movements strongly suggest is imminent. But Scholz refused to say the same.

“If Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine, again, then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2,” Biden said at a joint press conference with Scholz. “We will bring an end to it.”

“But how will you do that exactly, since the project and control of the project is within Germany’s control?” asked Andrea Shalal of Reuters, who had posed the original question to Biden about Nord Stream.

“We will, I promise you, we’ll be able to do it,” Biden replied.

When the same question was put to Scholz, however, the German leader gave a very different answer.

“We have intensively prepared everything to be ready with the necessary sanctions if there is a military aggression against Ukraine,” he said, without mentioning Nord Stream. “It is part of the process that we do not spell out everything in public, because Russia should understand that there might be even more to come.”

“Will you commit today to turning off and pulling the plug on Nord Stream 2?” asked Shalal.

But Scholz would not. “As I already said, we are acting together. We are absolutely united and we will not be taking different steps,” he replied, ignoring Shalal’s question.

Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019.

Anton Vaganov | Reuters

Biden deeply opposes the massive gas pipeline project and Washington has for years lobbied Berlin not to increase its energy dependence on Russia.

Germany, however, views the pipeline as an essential delivery system for natural gas that Germany already buys from Russia, Europe’s number one supplier of both crude oil and natural gas.

The disconnect between Biden and Scholz offered a public glimpse at just one of the issues that have made it difficult so far for NATO allies to agree on the severity of sanctions that will be imposed on Moscow should Putin send the more than 100,000 troops he has amassed on the Russian-Ukrainian border into Ukraine’s territory.

The varying degrees of energy dependence on Russia among individual NATO members has been a major sticking point during the past month as the alliance has quietly sought to get on the same page when it comes to potential…


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