Biden-Merkel Meeting: Sad Result for Ukraine

The two countries have not changed their positions on Nord Stream 2 – the United States says it opposes the pipeline, but it is impossible to say that it will impose sanctions again after meeting with Chancellor Merkel.

On July 15, the White House hosted a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden. Merkel and Biden issued several statements during a joint press conference following the talks. In particular, both support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. They discussed the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and signed a bilateral Washington Declaration of cooperation.

Both sides needed this meeting. The United States needed it because it cannot create an effective anti-Chinese coalition in Europe without Germany; Germany needs the United States because this is its major overseas ally, and no one wants to ruin relationships with them. Moreover, Germany needs to cooperate with the U.S. to counteract the influence of other countries and remain on a balanced playing field with China, Turkey, etc.

The declaration reinforced Germany as one of America’s major European allies in its foreign policy strategy.

It should be noted that Ukraine was not an important subject of these talks, as Ukrainian issues are of minor importance on this agenda, where only certain aspects of Ukraine’s situation are discussed.

In general, the U.S. and Germany have not changed their positions on Nord Stream 2 — the United States verbally opposes it, but it’s impossible to say whether the U.S. will impose sanctions again after the meeting with Merkel. The U.S. is likely to have already reached a compromise so that Nord Stream 2 can be completed. Most likely, the pipeline will be made operative. At most, this process may be dragged out if there is more bargaining to do, but by and large, the focus is shifting toward a decision to compensate Ukraine for the launch of the gas pipeline and at least guarantee gas transit to Ukraine after the pipeline is completed (although we do not know what volume of gas will be transported).

In this case, Ukraine has no choice but to force the price up for itself. We can and must bargain here. The worst thing Ukraine can do is to merely accept the money.

Although the best way to take advantage of the situation is to ensure a minimum volume for transit, Ukraine could ask for help in reformatting its energy structure to meet the new demand for hydrogen in Europe. In other words, it is time for Europe to help us modernize our gas transmission system and maybe reequip its future GTS supplies, as Germany is already talking about, because it has definitely become clear that no one is going to stop Nord Stream 2.

The author is an expert on international policy and the Middle East at the Ukrainian Institute of the Future.

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