Ukraine's Zelensky Hits Biden for Waiving Sanctions on Nord Pipeline

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is a “real weapon” and expressed surprise and disappointment in U.S. President Joe Biden’s approval of the project. 

“This is a weapon, a real weapon … in the hands of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky told Axios last Friday. “It is not very understandable … that the bullets to this weapon can possibly be provided by such a great country as the United States.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in mid-May waived sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, as well as its German CEO, Matthias Warnig, because sanctions, “would negatively impact U.S. relations with Germany, the EU and other European allies and partners,” said a State Department report obtained by NBC News.

Zelensky told Axios that the Biden administration had not informed him of the decision and that he learned of the change through the news.

“How many Ukrainian lives does the relationship between the United States and Germany cost?” Zelensky said. 

Still, he is “positive” Biden can put a stop to the project. 

“I still believe, after all, that Biden is a Jordan in politics,” Zelensky said, comparing the president to basketball star Michael Jordan and his ability to lull opponents into a “false sense of victory,” only to then “grab the victory at the very last minute.”

“If this is not the case, that will be a great pity, not only for me. There will be a feeling that in these circumstances Russia will have a great chance to prevail over the United States,” he said. 

Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month in Geneva.

Putin announced last Friday that the Russia gas company Gazprom is “ready to start filling Nord Stream 2 with gas.”

A spokesperson for the White House told Axios that The State Department “has regularly engaged with Ukrainian officials regarding Nord Stream 2.

“Prior to the transmission of the most recent report to Congress, the State Department notified the Ukrainian ambassador in Washington and senior officials in Kyiv, including the president’s chief of staff, of the contents of the report,” the person said. 

“The administration is committed to continuing to consult with Ukraine as we press Germany to address the risks Nord Stream 2 poses to Ukraine and European energy security. We also welcome Ukraine’s direct engagement with the German government about their concerns.”

The spokesperson also assured that Biden would “stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as he has done in both of his earlier calls to President Putin,” when he meets with Putin in Geneva.

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