The United States on Thursday confirmed that the expensive Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Moscow would be stillborn in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, calling on Russia to “return to the negotiating table” despite its somewhat cold reaction to the American disapproval. of its main demands.
• Read also: Ottawa expands military training in Ukraine
The fate of this controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, which Washington never wanted, but is now completed with Berlin’s blessing, will certainly be at the center of German Chancellor Olaf Schulz’s upcoming visit to the House of Representatives-Blanche, on February 7, to meet with US President Joe Biden.
The German government, accused of shyness and procrastination, tried to clarify its position on Thursday. Germany’s top diplomat, Annalena Barbock, said the “strong sanctions” that the West is preparing in the event of a Russian attack also include Nord Stream 2, which is still awaiting commissioning.
Based on these words and on its “talks” with Germany, the US government was more assertive.
“I want to be clear with you today: If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord, Stream 2 is not going forward,” Victoria Noland, No. 3 in US diplomacy, warned.
‘Not positive’ response
So the West continues to put pressure on Russia, which has shown it to be reticent, to say the least, the day after receiving written responses from the United States and NATO to its requests to get out of the current impasse.
“The ball is in their court,” Victoria Noland said, “We hope that Moscow will study what we offer them and return to the negotiating table,” stressing that if this “offer of dialogue” is “rejected,” the sanctions will be “extremely painful.”
About 100,000 Russian soldiers have been camping on the Ukrainian border with their armored vehicles since the end of 2021, so the US sees Russian President Vladimir Putin may take action by “mid-February”.
Russia denies any plan to invade but considers itself threatened by 20 years of NATO expansion as well as Western support for its Ukrainian neighbour.
It demanded an official end to NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, and a return to Western military deployments on the 1997 border.
The United States and NATO unsurprisingly rejected these key demands from Moscow on Wednesday, while once again opening the door to negotiations on mutual restrictions on the deployment of short and medium-range missiles of the two rival nuclear powers. In Europe as well as in the military field exercises near the enemy camp.
“We cannot say that our views have been taken into account,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov also noted the lack of a “positive response” to the main Russian claim.
But he did not close the door to dialogue, noting that we can “hopefully start a serious conversation about minor issues.”
Beijing supports Moscow
President Biden spoke by phone Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, who said in a tweet that he noted “recent diplomatic efforts to de-escalate” and “joint steps for the future.”
Among the glimmers of hope President Zelensky had earlier welcomed a “constructive” diplomatic exercise the day before in Paris, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met for the first time in months, under Franco-German auspices, to talk about the conflict between Kiev and the pro-Kiev. Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Slow but rare progress, the envoys announced a new meeting at the beginning of February in Berlin.
France saw this as a “good sign” for Russia ahead of a meeting between Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin scheduled for Friday.
Victoria Nuland welcomed the fact that “it is good that Russia has decided to negotiate” on the issue.
Russia can be satisfied with the apparent support of China, which defended the “reasonable concerns” of the Kremlin.
But Washington also called on Beijing to “use its influence on Moscow” to avoid a conflict in Ukraine that “will also not be beneficial to China”, due to its “significant impact on the global economy” and “the energy sector”.
On the streets of Kiev, Ukrainians hoped that Western diplomacy and military aid would prevent a Russian invasion.
“I don’t think Russia will take measures, but it is important to get support from our Western partners now, including weapons,” Andrei Shevrock, public procurement official, told AFP.
“Extreme twitteraholic. Passionate travel nerd. Hardcore zombie trailblazer. Web fanatic. Evil bacon geek.”