According to information from American portals Axios and CNN, U.S. President Joe Biden does not want to exacerbate the conflict with Germany over Nord Stream 2 (NS2). As a result, his administration will not impose sanctions on the main company responsible for the pipeline’s construction and its German director Matthias Warnig.
The findings of the American media were confirmed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that sanctions will indeed be waived. Reports on the USA’s change of position concerning NS2 have caused a vivid reaction in Poland.
“Secretary Blinken’s statement is simply laughable. To summarize: We will not impose sanctions that could block Nord Stream 2, although we can, but we continue to oppose the pipeline’s construction. (…) The U.S. is drastically losing credibility in Central Europe,” defense analyst Jakub Wiech commented on the statement.
To oświadczenie @SecBlinken jest po prostu śmieszne.
W skrócie: nie nakładamy sankcji, które mogłyby powstrzymać Nord Stream 2, choć możemy, ale dalej sprzeciwiamy się budowie tego połączenia.
To naprawdę niezły szpagat. USA drastycznie tracą wiarygodność w Europie Środkowej. https://t.co/21HVwFpESL
— Jakub Wiech (@jakubwiech) May 19, 2021
In an interview for portal TVP Info, former FM Witold Waszczykowski, who is a current Law and Justice (PiS) MEP, critically evaluated the Biden administration’s decision. He believes that Central European states will pay a high price for it.
“I would prefer for the United States to strongly present its position. If this information is confirmed, I would be surprised by yet another significant submission of the U.S. to Russia. This would be a very odd negotiation strategy, as Biden would’ve shown that he is making a gesture toward Moscow prior to having negotiated anything,” he said.
An agreement concerning NS2 was to have been reached during Blinken’s meeting with Russia’s head of diplomacy, Sergey Lavrov, in Reykjavik. Waszczkowski pointed out that initial proposals for agreements are typically presented during such meetings, not announcements set in stone.
He warned that if Russians see that an opponent is immediately presenting a wide array of concessions, they will push for more, and we can expect Central Europe to pay the price.
Waszczykowski said on Twitter that due to the situation, he has filed an amendment to the European Parliament report on EU-U.S. relations in which he expressed concern with the USA’s decision to waive sanctions over NS2’s construction.
W imieniu EKR właśnie złożyłem poprawkę do sprawozdania EP nt relacji EU-USA. Wyrażam zaniepokojenie decyzją USA ws zniesienia sankcji za budowę Nord Stream 2 @SecBlinken @HeikoMaas pic.twitter.com/xXG3gOClP7
— Witold Waszczykowski (@WaszczykowskiW) May 20, 2021
The decision to waive sanctions is even more peculiar, given Biden’s initial promises of a strong position against Russia and to not repeat the mistakes of Barack Obama’s administration.
Waszczykowski noted that the Biden administration had promised to be different and not start off with a huge credit of trust toward Russia, like previous presidents who had claimed they could see “a democratic soul in Vladimir Putin’s eyes.”
“It had seemed that the American stance toward Russia was hardening, not softening. It turns out that the truth is the complete opposite,” added the former head of Polish diplomacy.