Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and 10 of his European counterparts signed a joint statement Monday expressing their objection to the agreement between Germany and the United States on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, describing it "another tool" for Russia to "pressure and blackmail" Ukraine, Axios reported.
The fact that Menendez is such an important Democrat leader illustrates that criticism of the deal, which permits Russia to bypass Ukraine and deliver gas directly to Europe, is not only among Republicans determined to oppose President Joe Biden.
The Biden administration has acknowledged that Nord Stream 2 is "a Kremlin geopolitical project that threatens European energy security," but insists that the completion of the pipeline is a "fait accompli" and that enacting additional sanctions would only harm American relations with Germany, according to Axios.
The Biden administration said it tried, in the deal with Germany, to set up a mechanism to counter any improper moves by Russia, as Berlin agreed to take action if the Kremlin tries to "use energy as a weapon," set up a "green fund" to help Ukraine modernize its energy sector, and seek to ensure Russia continues to pay Ukraine around $3 billion in gas transit fees annually.
But Poland and Ukraine released a joint statement criticizing the U.S.-Germany deal as "not sufficient," stating that the decision to stop opposing the pipeline "has created political, military and energy threat for Ukraine and Central Europe, while increasing Russia's potential to destabilize the security situation in Europe, perpetuating divisions among NATO and European Union member states," Politico reported.
The statement put out by Menendez and 10 of his European counterparts stressed that the completion of Nord Stream 2 "will strengthen the impact of Russian gas in the European energy mix, endanger the national security of EU member states and the United States, and threaten the already precarious security and sovereignty of Ukraine."
The statement also condemned Moscow's "brutal aggression and military occupation" of Ukraine, and urged NATO and the EU to produce a road map for Kyiv to obtain membership.
The statement insisted “that any further agreements on Nord Stream 2 necessitate consultations across the transatlantic family. Moreover, such diplomacy should happen with the fundamental principle in mind - countering malign Russian aggression is in all of NATO's, all EU members, and our partners in Central and Eastern Europe vital national security interests."
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