It seemed that the construction of Gazprom’s gas pipeline was a foregone conclusion, but now the White House is appointing its own special representative for Nord Stream 2 just as the Russians are announcing that they are “a few weeks away” from completing the project. Also, the new representative is opposed to the Russian investment.
US President Joe Biden has appointed Amos Hochstein, his former close advisor and State Department’s former special envoy for international energy issues, as US special envoy for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, reports the Prime agency.
According to Axios sources, the appointment of Hochstein, who has previously strongly opposed Russia’s construction of the pipeline, means that he can “actively seek an effective strategy” for the United States on Nord Stream 2.
Hochstein will also address the previously reached US-German agreement on the issue. Both countries have stated that it is in the interest of Ukraine and the European Union to continue the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine beyond 2024.
Berlin has promised to use all available measures to facilitate the extension of the gas transit agreement between Ukraine and Russia to 10 years. This includes appointing a special envoy to support these negotiations, which are due to start no later than 1 September 2021. Germany has also pledged to impose sanctions on Russia if it uses energy resources as a “weapon” against European countries.
The Russians, however, are holding their own. On Monday, Sergei Nechayev, Russian ambassador to Germany, announced that Nord Stream-2 was only “a few weeks away” from completion, and the agreement between the United States and Germany will not affect the pace of work.
“We assume that the German-American agreement will not affect the pace of construction and the completion date of NS-2. The construction work is at its final stage, there are only a few weeks left for its final completion,” Nechayev said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper.
According to the Russian ambassador, the agreement between Washington and Berlin on Nord Stream 2 “does not involve any specific obligations for Russia.”
“First of all, it is necessary to clarify terminology. The USA and Germany have not concluded an agreement on Nord Stream 2. It is a joint statement, which is not a legally binding document for the signatories,” the ambassador said.
By Annie Cook (fot.: President Biden/Twitter)