Nord Stream 2 pipeline will ‘end’ if Russia invades Ukraine: Biden
US President Joe Biden made a categorical vow Monday at a meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz to shut down the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe if Moscow launches an invasion of Ukraine. Scholz, however, remained more ambiguous, promising only that he was “united” with Biden.
Biden’s declaration was his most blunt so far on the fate of the massive new pipeline, which has been completed, but has yet to begin funneling natural gas to Germany, tying energy hungry Europe ever closer to Russia.
“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 told a joint White House news conference with Scholz, following bilateral talks in the Oval Office.
“I promise you,” Biden said, “we will bring an end to it.”
Scholz was much less clear about how far he’s willing to go to punish Russia if an attack is launched by the more than 100,000 troops ordered by President Vladimir Putin to mass on Ukraine’s borders.
He said he and Biden were “absolutely united” on sanctions against Russia, insisting that “we will not (be) taking different steps, we will do the same steps and they will be very, very hard to Russia.”
However, when asked directly by journalists to comment on Nord Stream 2, he repeatedly avoided mentioning the pipeline by name or confirming directly that he would support scrapping the infrastructure. Biden, asked how Nord Stream 2 could be shelved when Germany controls a key part, said: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”
Scholz, making his first trip to the White House since taking over from longtime German leader Angela Merkel, has come under criticism from Ukraine and some in the United States over his relatively quieter stand on defending pro-Western Ukraine.
At issue is Germany’s decision not to join the United States and other NATO allies in Europe in sending weapons to help Ukraine’s military and questions over whether Germany is really willing to shelve Nord Stream 2 — a measure being considered as one of the most severe in a list of potential sanctions.
However, both Biden and Scholz used their press conference to insist that there was no daylight between them.
“Germany’s completely reliable — completely, totally, thoroughly reliable. I have no doubt about Germany at all,” Biden said, speaking next to Scholz.
At the Oval Office meeting, Biden said he and Scholz were in “lockstep,” while Scholz told reporters earlier “we are close allies and we act in a coordinated and united way.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki described Germany as having “huge strategic value to the United States” and said “today is an opportunity for the president to build on the relationship.”