Biden to lobby German leader over Russia sanctions and pipeline

WASHINGTON — President Biden will meet with Olaf Scholz, Germany’s new chancellor, at the White House on Monday, a visit meant to public...

WASHINGTON — President Biden will meet with Olaf Scholz, Germany’s new chancellor, at the White House on Monday, a visit meant to publicly reinforce a key bond in the Western alliance amid fears that Germany hasn’t been a strong enough partner. powerful in calming tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

The first few months on the job were eventful for Mr. Scholz, who took over from Angela Merkel, a politician who had worked with four US presidents. Berlin’s reluctance to join its NATO allies in outlining the consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine has strained relations to the point that last week Germany’s ambassador to Washington sent a warning that many in the United States regard Germany as an “unreliable partner”.

The situation represents a diplomatic pivot for Mr. Biden, who touted his relationship with Ms. Merkel during a meeting at the White House in July: “Good friends can disagree” on issues such as how each led its relations with Russia, he said at the time. . More than six months later, Mr. Biden is determined to present a united NATO front in the Ukraine crisis; administration officials say that the Russian army has already gathered 70% of the forces it would need to stage a full-scale invasion.

In a call with reporters on Sunday, administration officials said Biden would seek to discuss a “swift and tough” package of sanctions against Russia if its President, Vladimir V. Putin, decides to withdraw. ‘invading Ukraine; the Kremlin insists that no such action is being considered. In recent weeks, Mr. Biden has threatened harsh economic sanctions against Russia’s financial sector and against members of Mr. Putin’s inner circle.

Mr. Scholz has been less willing to publicly lay out such consequences, a low-key stance that has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats: “The Germans are missing right now,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, who has visited Ukraine in January, noted recently. Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, publicly criticized Germany not to allow flights carrying military aid for Ukraine to fly over German airspace.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Scholz are also likely to discuss the disputed $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline under construction between Germany and Russia. The pipeline has been assaulted by Mr. Biden and his advisers as a coercive tool against Ukraine and other allies, even though the president agreed last year to waive sanctions related to the project.

The pipeline is waiting as European Commission officials investigate whether the project, designed by Gazprom, Russia’s largest energy company, is in line with European energy policy. US lawmakers are increasingly calling for the pipeline to be shut down if Russia mounts an invasion of Ukraine. US officials have said that if Russia invades, the project will not move forward.

Mr Scholz was vague whether he would agree to terminate the pipeline project. But he told the Washington Post, in an interview published Sunday eveningthat Germany’s response with its allies to such an invasion would be “united and decisive”.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Scholz will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon after their meeting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden to lobby German leader over Russia sanctions and pipeline
Biden to lobby German leader over Russia sanctions and pipeline
Newsrust - US Top News
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