Merkel’s last official visit to the United States, Ukraine is listed as a top priority

Hopes that Germany and the United States may finally come close to resolving their differences on the issue have been rising. Beixi 2, The pipeline to transport Russian natural gas to Europe. This week, Angela Merkel did her best to contain them.

She said she will discuss this issue with Joe Biden when she visits the United States on Thursday-this may be her last time as German Chancellor after 16 years-but it is not known whether they will actually reach an agreement. “I don’t think so,” she told reporters.

Great progress has been made in US-German relations Quick defrost After the deep freeze of Donald Trump’s presidency. Since entering the White House, Biden blocked Trump’s plan to withdraw 12,000 U.S. troops from German territory. Exempt from sanctions on NS2 And withdrew the trade dispute, which was a huge stimulus between Washington and Berlin.

“I think it’s fair to say that the United States has no better partner or friend in the world than Germany,” Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said in Berlin last month.

However, apart from thorny issues such as China and Germany’s defense spending, NS2 is still the focus of debate between the United States and Germany.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters after a meeting with Merkel that it “may threaten Ukraine’s security”, and the anger that caused it was fully exposed on Monday. Biden also called it a “deal against Europe.”

This German-backed pipeline is about to be completed and will greatly increase the amount of natural gas that Russia can send directly to Europe, bypassing Ukraine. Critics say this will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy and make Ukraine more vulnerable to pressure from the Kremlin than it is now.

Although the hope that the US President and Merkel can resolve the NS2 dispute is not high, officials and diplomats said that the two sides can work hard to formulate a “package” to resolve Ukraine’s concerns.

“This is not just about Nord Stream 2; the whole idea is to make Ukraine less susceptible to Russian extortion and to reduce its dependence on Russian gas,” said Neil, a junior partner of Merkel’s coalition government and spokesman for foreign affairs of the Social Democratic Party. Schmid said.

One idea is a mechanism that allows Germany to shut down NS2 if Russia puts pressure on Ukraine by arbitrarily cutting off the supply of natural gas currently flowing through Ukraine’s transit system.

Roderich Kiesewetter, Merkel’s senior foreign policy spokesperson for the Christian Democratic League, recently wrote: “Any activation of the North Stream 2 pipeline should be linked to the security of Eastern European supplies.” He said, The Russians should provide “verifiable guarantees” that they will “supply a fixed minimum amount of natural gas to Ukraine in the future.”

Merkel hinted on Monday that even if the current transit contract expires in 2024, Germany will still work hard to ensure that Russian gas continues to flow through Ukraine. “We are not powerless there,” she said. “We have promised Ukraine that we will abide by this.”

Zelensky seemed unmoved. “I think such a guarantee…too little,” he said.

The second idea to solve this problem is the close cooperation between Germany and Ukraine in renewable energy.

Berlin hopes to help Ukraine become a potential supplier of “green hydrogen” for German industry. In March last year, German Economy Minister Peter Altmeier and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmihal discussed this topic in Berlin.

“We have 2 billion euros for international hydrogen energy projects-we can really help effectively,” Altmaier Tweet in May.

Although expectations for an agreement in Washington this week are low, it is clear that Biden hopes to resolve the NS2 conflict before Zelensky plans to visit the White House later this summer.

“he [Biden] A Zelensky adviser said that he hopes to remove this issue from the agenda because it is a politically hot potato in the country. He was referring to the sharp criticism from both parties in the U.S. Congress when Biden gave up NS2 sanctions.

NS2 is not the only stimulus in the relationship between the United States and Germany. The United States is still dissatisfied with Germany’s failure to spend 2% of its GDP on national defense, a goal it accepted in 2014 but has so far failed to achieve.

China also has differences.Biden wants Europe to support a tougher attitude towards Beijing, but German political institutions are worried about being dragged into New cold warMerkel stepped down as prime minister after the federal election in September and has always emphasized the need for cooperation with China.

Stephen Birlin, professor of international politics and transatlantic relations at the University of Regensburg, said that Biden’s friendly gesture to Berlin is not just out of goodwill. He said: “All these are advance payments to win Germany’s support for its tough policy towards China.”

For now, Biden may eventually be disappointed. “The reality is that the Germans are not prepared to accommodate him in this matter,” Billing said.

However, Schmid added, “Merkel has made it clear that she will not change her China policy… very clearly Yes Will change-after she leaves power”.

Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk In Kiev and Aimee Williams in Washington

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