US President Joe Biden has claimed that he took office too late to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline linking Russia and Germany, saying it would be “counterproductive” to sanction his allies over the project as it nears completion.
“I had been opposed to Nord Stream 2 from the beginning, but it was almost completed by the time I took office,” Joe Biden told reporters in Washington, on Tuesday. “To go ahead and impose sanctions now, I think is counterproductive in terms of our European relations.”
The first statement echoed the explanation given to reporters by White House press secretary Jen Psaki last week, while the second was the exact reasoning described by the State Department for waiving sanctions against the company building the pipeline and its CEO.
Biden’s statement came on the same day that the White House and the Kremlin confirmed that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a bilateral summit on June 16 in Geneva. A White House statement said the Biden administration will seek to “restore predictability and stability to the US-Russia relationship.”
The Nord Stream 2 project was just one of several fronts on which the two nations have been clashing. The main US objection to the undersea pipeline is that it will further lessen Kiev’s leverage over Moscow by providing another gas conduit to Germany that doesn’t run through Ukraine. With only about 100 kilometers of pipeline left to lay as of earlier this month, the project may be completed before Germany’s September 26 election.