US says near deal with Germany on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline

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The United States said Tuesday it was near a deal with Germany over concerns on Nord Stream 2, the nearly complete pipeline from Russia that Ukraine and others fear will embolden Moscow.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a visit last week to Washington acknowledged differences with President Joe Biden but said that both agreed that Ukraine must remain a transit point for Russian gas even as Nord Stream 2 opens shortly in the Baltic Sea.

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“The Germans have put forward useful proposals and we have been able to make progress on steps to achieve that shared goal... to ensure that Russia cannot weaponize energy flows,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“We don’t have any final details to announce yet but I expect we will be... in a position to say more soon,” he said.

His remarks came as a top State Department official, Derek Chollet, landed in Ukraine ahead of a stop in Poland -- two countries that have sharply criticized Germany over the deal with Russia.

The United States and a number of nations historically suspicious of Russia say that the new pipeline will reduce the remaining leverage of Ukraine, which has been battling pro-Moscow separatists since 2014 but remains a transit point for Russia’s crucial export to Europe.

US officials have said they hope that Germany will agree to automatic repercussions if Russian President Vladimir Putin exerts more pressure on Ukraine over energy.

Biden drew rebukes even from some allies in Congress when he waived most sanctions over Nord Stream that would have been triggered under US law.

The administration argued that it was too late to stop the pipeline and that it was better to focus on cooperation with Germany, which has rejoiced at working with Biden after high tensions with his predecessor Donald Trump.

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