- In the most blunt warning yet to Russia, US President Biden said there will be no gas pipeline in the event that Russia attacks Ukraine.
- The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is in its final stages to supply gas from Russia to Europe – crucial for the Russian economy.
- However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz remained noncommittal on the matter, despite questions from some journalists.
WASHINGTON: While meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday, US President Joe Biden made a categorical vow to shut down Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe if Moscow launches an invasion of Ukraine.
However, Scholz remained ambiguous, promising only that he was “united” with Biden.
Biden’s statement was his most blunt yet about the fate of the massive new pipeline, which has been completed but has yet to begin funneling natural gas into Germany, bringing energy-hungry Europe ever closer to Russia.
“If Russia invades — that means again tanks or troops crossing the border into Ukraine — then there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2,” Biden told a joint White House press conference with Scholz, after bilateral talks in the Oval Office . †
Read more: Watch: How did the Ukraine-Russia crisis start?
“I promise you,” Biden said, “we will put an end to it.”
Scholz has been much less clear about how far he is willing to go to punish Russia if an attack is launched by the more than 100,000 troops ordered by President Vladimir Putin to come en masse to Ukraine’s borders.
He said he and Biden were “absolutely in agreement” on sanctions against Russia, stressing that “we will not take different steps, we will take the same steps and they will be very, very difficult for Russia.”
Read more: Ukraine announces plan to bolster army, Europeans rally behind Zelenskiy
However, when journalists asked him directly to comment on Nord Stream 2, he repeatedly avoided naming the pipeline or directly confirming that he would support the demolition of the infrastructure.
Biden, who asked how Nord Stream 2 could be suspended if Germany holds a key part, said: “I promise you we will be able to do that.”
Scholz, who made his first trip to the White House since taking over from longtime German leader Angela Merkel, has been criticized by Ukraine and some in the United States for his relatively quieter stance on defending pro-western Ukraine.
Read more: No evacuation of US citizens in Ukraine for now: State Dept.
It’s about Germany’s decision not to join the United States and other NATO allies in Europe in sending weapons to help the Ukrainian military and whether Germany is really willing to suspend Nord Stream 2 – a measure considered to be one of the strictest in a list of possible sanctions.
However, both Biden and Scholz used their press conference to insist that there was no daylight between them.
“Germany is completely reliable – completely, completely, thoroughly reliable. I have no doubts about Germany at all,” Biden said, speaking alongside Scholz.
At the Oval Office meeting, Biden said he and Scholz were in “lockstep”, while Scholz previously told reporters “we are close allies and we act in a coordinated and united manner.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki described Germany as “of great strategic value to the United States” and said “the president will have an opportunity today to build on the relationship.”