American Civic Groups Join…

American Civic Groups Join Global Parliaments in Denouncing NS2

American civic groups have joined the growing wave of national legislative bodies that have denounced the Russian Nord Stream 2 project as detrimental to regional and global peace and security as well as Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.

Nord Stream 2 is a 1,230-kilometer (764-mile) twin pipeline that will double the capacity of the existing undersea energy route from Russian gas fields to Europe – the original Nord Stream, which opened in 2011. Ukraine and the other former captive nations of Russian aggression have opposed this project because it would give Moscow undue power over regional geopolitics.

In the United States, bipartisan opposition to Nord Stream 2 has been the mainstay of America’s policy against Russian expansion and in support of Ukraine and its neighbors since the Obama and Trump administrations. It has served as Washington’s unambiguous response to Russia’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and Moscow’s record of using gas deliveries as a weapon of coercion in Eastern Europe.

At a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, July 15, President Biden suddenly decided to reverse the policy of its predecessors despite his Administration’s promise not to do so. This reversal is regarded as a capitulation to pressure from Germany and a gift to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Biden and Merkel pledged that they will oppose any effort by Russia to use the deleterious Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a weapon against neighboring nations such as Ukraine. They pledged to enact sanctions against Moscow if it harms Ukraine.

Despite these pledges, the damage to American national interest will be profound as the former captive nations will not view as credible Washington’s promises of support. As for Moscow’s assurances, well they were never sincere and believable.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is understandably disappointed by Washington’s change of heart. Zelenskyy said Biden had offered him “direct signals” that the U.S. was prepared to block the pipeline. Then he said he learned that Biden would be waiving the sanctions. Zelenskyy had observed that he understands the importance of that relationship, but he asked: “How many Ukrainian lives does the relationship between the United States and Germany cost?”

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

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Polish America Congress issued a joint condemnation of what is considered a betrayal by Washington while expressing hope that it could still be rescinded.

The statement, signed by Andrew J. Futey, president of the UCCA, and Frank J. Spula, president of PAC, reads as follows:

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), which represents some 30 national associations of Ukrainian Americans, and the interests of nearly 2 million Americans of Ukrainian descent, and the Polish American Congress (PAC), an umbrella organization representing over 10 million Americans of Polish descent, stand united in the wake of the official announcement of an agreement reached between U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

“Following the Biden-Merkel announcement on July 21, PAC and UCCA were distraught to discover that neither President Biden, nor Chancellor Merkel reached out to their respective legislative branches before entering into negotiations on this issue. For the German side, it was equally rash not to have consulted with the EU Council, which repeatedly has called for stepping back from the current over-reliance on Kremlin-dominated energy routes. In this respect, we commend and support Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s response to the EU, in which he pointed out that according to Article 274 of Ukraine’s 2014 European Union Association Agreement, the EU and its member states are obliged to ‘consult and coordinate’ with Ukraine on energy ‘infrastructure developments’ and ‘shall cooperate on matters related to trade in natural gas, sustainability, and security of supply.’

“In response to the Biden-Merkel announcement on July 21, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Polish American Congress strongly agree with the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Poland who issued a joint statement lamenting that: ‘the hitherto proposals to cover the resulting security deficit cannot be considered sufficient to effectively limit the threats created by NS2. We call on the United States and Germany to adequately address the security crisis in our region, that Russia is the only beneficiary to.’

“While every new administration looks to take a fresh approach to foreign policy, our constituents took President Biden at his word when he described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as ‘fundamentally bad deal for Europe’ specifically because, in his words, it would ‘lock in great reliance on Russia [which] will fundamentally destabilize Ukraine.’

“The only certain financial beneficiaries in Russia are Kremlin insiders, Gazprom’s subcontractors and members of the European business and political elites who derive remuneration from their support for the project. Completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project will only serve to increase corruption in Europe and enhance Russian soft power inside the EU. A completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline would provide roughly 30% of Russia’s GNP – money that Putin’s Russia will undoubtedly use to continue its aggressive behavior and invasions of neighboring countries – not to mention their hybrid war tactics used against the west, including the United States.

“Any attempts to agree on the future of energy relations and security of Europe without the participation of Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, and the Baltic Nations, whose security will suffer first once the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is completed, must not become the norm in international relations between our respective countries. Such attempts undermine the stability of the entire transatlantic region and hurt trust between transatlantic partners.

The Nord Stream 2 project needs to be stopped. The United States should not only fully implement congressionally mandated sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, it should further sanction any of the subcontractors that work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to ratchet up the pressure on Russia to finally leave Ukrainian territory. Together, we call on President Biden to maintain the commitments made to our allies in Eastern Europe and continue America’s bipartisan record of support for Ukraine.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez(D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined on August 2, 2021, by his counterparts from Estonia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania in issuing the following joint statement in opposition to the recent agreement between the United States and Germany to allow the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline:

 “We, the Chairs of Foreign Affairs Committees of our respective national parliaments, continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project and with regret note the recent decision of the United States and Germany on Nord Stream 2, which entails resuming completion of the pipeline.

“We consider Nord Stream 2 a geopolitical project geared towards expanding Russia’s influence on Europe by dominating the energy market. The completion of the pipeline will strengthen the impact of Russian gas in the European energy mix, endanger the national security of EU member states and the United States, and threaten the already precarious security and sovereignty of Ukraine.

“Moreover, the completion of NS 2 will give Russia yet another tool to pressure and blackmail Ukraine. It continues to face Russia’s brutal aggression and military occupation of its territories because of its pro-European choice. As a result, over 14,000 Ukrainians have died, and every week, more Ukrainian soldiers give their lives to protect their homeland and entire Europe. The EU and United States must work together to increase sanctions pressure on the Kremlin to counter aggression in Ukraine.

“The likely repercussion of the completion and operation of Nord Stream 2 is to undermine the development of a single, liberalized, and open European market by consolidating sources of supply in the Nord Stream 2 system and deterring investment in alternatives. We expect a clear commitment from Germany to reduce dependency on gas imported from Russia and move towards green energy. We presume that Germany will handle its responsibility towards these goals with the utmost dedication. We need to make a collective commitment to increase support to the security and defense capabilities of Ukraine in order to prevent a deepening of the current security crisis, exacerbated by the threats created by Nord Stream 2.

“In the changing security environment in the region, we call for commitments from NATO to strengthen deterrence, especially on the Eastern Flank from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. We also need to commit to delivering a road map for Ukraine’s path towards joining the NATO alliance, if Ukraine makes the necessary reforms and meets NATO membership standards. To consolidate the transformation efforts of the Ukrainian government as well as democracy and human rights in the region, we call for a European Union membership perspective to be agreed upon for Ukraine.

“We insist that any further agreements on Nord Stream 2 necessitate consultations across the transatlantic family. Moreover, such diplomacy should happen with the fundamental principle in mind – countering malign Russian aggression is in all of NATO’s, all EU members, and our partners in Central and Eastern Europe vital national security interests.”

It was signed by Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, United States Senate; Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The Riigikogu of the Republic of Estonia; Ondrej Veselý, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The Parliament of the Czech Republic; Pavel Fischer, chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security, The Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic; Charles Flanagan, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The House of Oireachtas, Rihards Kols, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The Saeima of the Republic of Latvia; Marek Kuchcinski, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The Sejm of the Republic of Poland; Bogdan Klich, chairman of the Foreign and European Union Affairs Committee, The Senate of the Republic of Poland; Oleksandr Merezhko, chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The House of Commons of the United Kingdom; Žygimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

Nord Stream 2 shows that the x-captive nations’ quest to rid themselves of Moscow’s threats and subjugation is not yet accomplished. Moscow continues to wage a cold and hot war to re-subjugate the independent countries of Eastern Europe. Surprisingly and sadly the United States has abandoned its moniker as the bastion of the captive nations’ freedom and buckled under Moscow’s pressure and turned against the x-captive nations. Fortunately, at least, the free world recognizes Moscow’s ongoing danger and belligerence, and the righteous states stand with Ukraine and its independent neighbors.