The future of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project may be decided at two upcoming meetings –a meeting of U.S. President Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This opinion was expressed by Lana Zerkal, the former deputy foreign minister and former adviser to the chairman of Naftogaz's board, in an interview for the Ukrainian-registered European Pravda news outlet.
"It all depends, in my opinion, on the results of Putin's meeting with Biden. As I heard today, there will be a Biden-Zelensky meeting before that ... The future of Nord Stream 2, in my opinion, depends very much on these two meetings," Zerkal said.
Zerkal says she believes that the United States has not yet given up the sanctions against Nord Stream 2, but they have been put on hold. So the ex-diplomat does not rule out the possibility of their resumption. That is why, in her opinion, Biden's meetings with the presidents of Ukraine and Russia could be crucial.
"I think that they [in the United States] have not given up the sanctions. They have temporarily waived the sanctions against the consortium [Nord Stream 2 AG] and the consortium's CEO as an option. This does not mean that they cannot resume at any moment," Zerkal said.
Biden's upcoming meeting with Putin
- The first face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is to be hosted by Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16, 2021.
- The White House said the two leaders would discuss "the full range of pressing issues" with the goal of restoring "predictability and stability" in the Washington-Moscow relationship.
- The Kremlin, in turn, announced the upcoming discussion of the status and prospects for the further development of Russian-American relations, strategic stability issues, as well as crucial issues on the international agenda, in particular the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts.
- White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that during the meeting with Putin, President Biden would plan to declare the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "The President will also raise Ukraine, underscoring America's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said at a press briefing on May 25, 2021.
- Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in turn, announced they were working on preparations for negotiations between Zelensky and Biden pending the Biden-Putin meeting.
Nord Stream 2
- The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald.
- This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019. The pipeline will be 1,220 km long.
- Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom is the founder of Nord Stream 2 AG.
- The project is financed by European companies – France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany's Uniper and Wintershall.
- The construction of Nord Stream 2 was suspended over U.S. sanctions against contractor companies, but resumed in February 2021. Nord Stream 2 AG decided to complete it on its own.
Translation: Akulenko Olena