In deal with Germany, U.S. drops threat to block Russian gas pipelines

The United States has dropped its threat to block the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, officials said on Wednesday, formally setting aside a yearslong disagreement with Berlin over an energy deal that critics have warned would allow Moscow to starve Ukraine of transit fees that are crucial to Kyiv’s economy.

The Biden administration’s decision was effectively an acknowledgment that the pipeline project was too far advanced to stop, and that relations with Germany, a crucial ally, were too important to jeopardize over the dispute.

But it infuriated Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have demanded the use of economic penalties to halt the pipelines, and on Wednesday accused the administration of being soft on Russia…

The new agreement appears to be a way for Mr. Biden to spin the inevitable completion of the pipelines as a kind of diplomatic victory and a defense of the interests of Poland and Ukraine, which could suffer financially. It calls for Germany to impose sanctions on Russia if it were to use its control over energy supplies to harm or endanger Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic nations or any other U.S. ally.