Citing "officials from Berlin and Washington," the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the US and Germany had reached an agreement to allow completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. According to the report, the two NATO allies could announced the deal as soon as Wednesday.
"Germany under the agreement will agree to assist Ukraine in energy-related projects and diplomacy," the New York paper noted.
The gas pipeline, which will bring heating and power-generating fuel to Western Europe from Russia via an undersea route beneath the Baltic, has been targeted by US administrations who claim it will give Moscow leverage over European affairs.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to Washington to meet with US President Joe Biden, during which time they discussed Nord Stream 2, among other topics. Afterward, Merkel said they had "come to different assessments as to what this project entails."
The longtime German leader said earlier this year that she didn't see what the hubbub in Washington was about, since "the gas delivered through Nord Stream 2, which isn’t yet flowing, is no worse than the gas from Nord Stream 1, that which flows through Ukraine, and that which comes across Turkey from Russia.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has similarly said the project is purely economic in scope.
Biden, and former US President Donald Trump, have claimed the pipeline is a threat to Ukrainian and Polish energy security because it bypasses them via an undersea route. Trump tried to convince Berlin to renege on the deal and European Union investors to stop coordinating with Russian energy company Gazprom on the project. However, Trump was also partially motivated by his desire to convince Germany and other nations to buy American liquid natural gas instead of Russian gas.
In December 2020, Trump vetoed a bill that would have sanctioned Germany for continuing to pursue the project, which will bring an additional 55 billion cubic meters of gas westward each year, but his veto was overruled and the law took effect. Still, while the US sanctioned the Russian pipe-laying vessel Fortuna working on the pipeline and the limited liability company that owns it, KVT-Rus, it has waived sanctions on other target entities ever since, with Biden saying recently he would reconsider the policy after the pipeline is complete. Germany has rejected the very notion of US sanctions due to the pipeline, saying they violate European sovereignty.
In response, some critical Republican lawmakers, such as US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), have pledged to block any further consideration of nominations by Biden to ambassadorial posts until sanctions are imposed on the pipeline.