Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Unity with NATO and Europe overshadowed by disagreements over gas pipeline between Russia and Germany

(CNN) –

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday reiterated his warning that the US would consider sanctions on completion and certifying work on the gas pipeline between Russian and Germany – the only one of discord in an extended demonstration of unity with European allies and NATO states Note.

“The pipeline divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and Central Europe to Russian manipulation and coercion, it goes against Europe’s own energy security goals, so what I said is that we will complete and certify the pipeline We will continue to monitor the activity to do, and if this is the case if the activity occurs, we will make a determination on the applicability of the sanctions, ”Blinken said at a press conference in Brussels.

The top US diplomat was in Brussels for meetings with NATO officials and European leaders in a diplomatic blitz to reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to its allies; Russia and China are indicated that any invasion will face a unified front, and will consult on a range of issues, including what to do. Pull US troops from Afghanistan A May deadline set by the last administration.

“The main reason I am here and President Biden said that we are here this week is to strongly reaffirm, to the United States’ commitment to NATO and to our partnership for this alliance. One with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg In attendance Tuesday, Blinken said, “We are determined to revive our partnerships.”

Palak repeatedly stressed the need for the US and Europe to work together and emphasized their unity on a range of issues, including the ongoing deadlock with Iran. Blinken said that the US and the so-called E3 – UK, France and Germany – “are very much on the same page when it comes to Iran.”

Washington has offered to negotiate with Iran about the US withdrawal on the 2015 deal, but the two sides are in a deadlock, with Iran insisting that the US first lift the sanctions and return to a deal it abandoned in 2018 , While Washington pushed for a mutually coordinated move and Iran to prevent its steady violation of the treaty.

“To date, Iran has chosen not to engage,” Blinken said. “So, as we have said, the ball is really up to their court to see if they want to return for diplomacy and compliance with the agreement.”

“Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks,” Blinken said.

On Afghanistan, Blinken said that Biden Upcoming decision The response from NATO allies will tell of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by the May 1 deadline set by the former administration.

“I took back the ideas I heard yesterday from my colleagues for the president, and I think that is going to be an important factor in informing their thinking about the way forward,” Blinken said. “We went together, we adjusted together, and, when the time is right, we will leave together.” Blinken said that Biden has stated that “it will be harder to meet the deadline for a full withdrawal on May 1, but what we are doing will again detract from the thinking, and strategic decisions of our allies. Those With colleagues. ”

The only disappointing note in public was Nord Stream 2, a pipeline from the Russian gas fields through Germany to the Baltic Sea that is currently under construction. It is intended to provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while giving Russia more direct access to the European market. But tensions between Russia and the West have escalated due to Moscow’s electoral intervention in Europe and the US, its cyber attacks and ongoing occupation of Crimea, resistance to the pipeline has taken a tough stance in the US.

“President Biden has long been very clear in his view that Nord Stream 2 is a bad idea,” Blinken said, adding that he shared that scene with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “I also clarified that firms engaged in pipeline construction put American sanctions at risk,” Blinken said.

State Department officials have insisted that any entity involved in the Russia-Germany natural gas pipeline risks US sanctions and should immediately leave work on the pipeline. Congress passed legislation in 2019 and expanded in 2020 requiring sanctions and significant support from a bipartisan congressional majority.

Blinken is expected to emphasize the importance of coalition and US-European unity in a speech scheduled after Wednesday and accept the pressure on trans-Atlantic cooperation developed during the Trump administration.

Given that the world looks very different from decades ago when NATO-like coalitions were forged, Blinken is expected to say that since then, “the threats have increased manifold.” Competition is tightened. Power dynamics have shifted. Confidence in our alliances has been shaken – and that goes to trust each other and believe in the strength of our commitments. ”

During his two-day visit to NATO allies, Blinken has repeatedly emphasized certain issues, including his central message to the Biden administration and to the support of his traditional American allies, including the growing democracy of autocratic leaders Threats were also involved – an issue Turkey – and from countries such as Russia and China.

“We do not always look at the threats we face or how to deal with them within our coalition,” Blinken said. “Our democracy and shared values ​​of human rights are being challenged – not only from outside our countries, but also from within.”

Blinken also emphasized that no major challenge can be faced by a single country in front of the global community. “New threats are preparing our efforts to build the capabilities we need to engage them,” he said, noting that China and Russia are using economic and technological tools in new ways Have been.

“We can’t just play defense – we must take a positive approach. We have seen how Beijing and Moscow are pressuring our allies and driving among us using increasingly important resources, markets, and technologies .

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.

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