After six months of unsuccessful attempts, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky finally obtained an audience, on August 30, in Washington, with his American counterpart, Joe Biden. The White House only granted its invitation after finding common ground with Berlin to lift US sanctions against the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline. A diplomatic blow for Kiev, which considers this Russian project to be hostile and dangerous for his interests.
According to Zelensky, the gas pipeline, which bypasses Ukrainian territory, represents a “Serious security threat” from his country. “Nord Stream 2 will deprive Ukraine of its gas supplies, which means depriving us of at least $ 3 billion [2,5 milliards d’euros] per year… We will not have to pay anything to the Ukrainian army ”, said the Ukrainian president to a group of American senators on June 2.
Moscow denies any political dimension to the gas pipeline project. But the speech on Russian state television sometimes presents the project in a different light. A star presenter said in 2019: “We finish the Nord Stream 2, then we crush Ukraine! “
Today, the construction of the gas pipeline, which directly connects the Russian and German territories by crossing the bed of the Baltic Sea, is almost completed. Mr. Biden justified the lifting of US sanctions by “Impossibility” to stop it, as well as by the desire to ” to fix “ relations with Germany, which is very attached to the project because of its gas needs. Anxious, however, to spare Kiev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will travel to Ukraine on August 22 to meet Mr. Zelensky there.
Mr Biden chose to ignore his Ukrainian counterpart on several occasions during his European tour, notably during the NATO summit. Kiev calls for integration into the transatlantic military alliance to guarantee its security. “Biden wanted to settle the gas pipeline problem before Zelensky’s visit, so as not to have to deal with the most irritating bilateral issue,” analysis Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the international affairs think tank New Europe Center, based in Kiev.
This is not the only “irritating” file. During the 2020 US presidential campaign, Ukraine was at the center of a disinformation campaign targeting Joe Biden, through his son Hunter. The latter was accused by Donald Trump, along with Rudy Giulani, then the ex-president’s lawyer in charge, of corruption when he sat on the board of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. At the time, Volodymyr Zelensky seemed entangled in spite of himself in this affair which left traces. In particular, it has made the current White House even more demanding of the Ukrainian administration on issues of reform, governance of public enterprises and the fight against corruption.
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