Washington (AFP)

The United States announced Wednesday an agreement with the German government to end its dispute over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany, but opponents of Joe Biden denounce a "gift" to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This agreement, expected, must be presented in detail later today, confirmed the number three of the American diplomacy Victoria Nuland, who however unveiled the main provisions: possible sanctions against Moscow in case of slippage, and a commitment of Washington and Berlin to plead together for the ten-year extension of the measures guaranteeing the transit through Ukraine of Russian gas.

"If Russia were to attempt to use energy as a weapon or to commit other aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany commits, in this agreement with us, to take measures at the level national, and to push for effective measures at European level, including sanctions to limit Russian export capacities to Europe in the energy sector, ”she said.

"The other aspect of this agreement is support for the extension of the transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine which ends in 2024. We will advocate and pressure (...) for ten more years, ”she added.

- Zelensky invited at the end of August -

The United States strongly oppose, and for years, this gas pipeline, almost completed.

They deplore that it passes by the Baltic Sea, but not by Ukraine, threatening to deprive this country of part of the revenues collected on the transit, but also of a means of pressure on Moscow.

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Joe Biden, however, ended up giving up imposing sanctions to block the project, believing that it was too late and that it was better to bet on cooperation with Germany - favorable to Nord Stream 2.

This reversal has earned the American president criticism from Republicans, but also from many tenors of his own Democratic camp.

During her visit to Washington last week, Angela Merkel reaffirmed that Ukraine should remain "a transit country" for Russian gas, while Joe Biden said he shared with the German Chancellor "the conviction that it should not be not let Russia use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors ".

Statements that laid the groundwork for the agreement announced Wednesday.

Without waiting for the details, the Republicans had denounced this compromise on Tuesday.

"We always knew that Biden shared Putin's bed, now they are cuddling", taunted, provocatively, the Trumpist senator Ted Cruz, evoking a "gift" allowing "Russian dictators" to "blackmail energy "to Europe.

Victoria Nuland replied Wednesday in the Senate that the Biden administration had inherited a Nord Stream 2 "more than 90% complete", and therefore impossible to stop, whereas in 2016, when Donald Trump arrived at the White House , the United States were according to her "in the process of blocking the gas pipeline".

Senator Jim Risch lamented that the agreement with Berlin was "negotiated without the participation and consent of key allies like Ukraine and Poland".

The number three of the US State Department had to deny reports that Washington had pressured the Ukrainian authorities to silence their critics.

"None of us put pressure on Ukraine," she said, referring to "close consultations with the Ukrainians on every aspect of this agreement".

The White House immediately announced that President Biden would receive his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on August 30.

© 2021 AFP