For the first time, the United States signaled its readiness to start a dialogue on lifting sanctions from Nord Stream 2, provided that Germany prepares a package of proposals, reported the newspaper Handelsblatt, citing sources in the American administration." The German side should put a package of solutions on the negotiating table," the source of the newspaper said. "Otherwise, we will not be able to solve the Nord Stream 2 problem”.
The Americans demand establishing a mechanism that will allow to stop the operation of the pipeline if the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine is reduced. "That is, gas supplies through Nord Stream 2 may be stopped if Moscow tries to put pressure on Ukraine by reducing gas volumes," the newspaper writes.
In addition, the U.S. wants to renegotiate the agreement regulating the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine's gas transit system. "The goal is to create more favorable conditions for the Ukraine," Handelsblatt notes. Another requirement is to increase the capacity of gas storage facilities so that Ukraine can ensure adequate supplies if necessary.
Third, the United States requires Germany to help Ukraine expand its gas transit infrastructure in order to make Kyiv a significant player in Europe’s energy market and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia.
"President Biden will lift sanctions only if it is guaranteed that Russia will not be able to use its energy as a weapon against Ukraine and other neighboring countries," the source told Handelsblatt.
At the same time, Berlin is not ready to make concessions yet. German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed "North Stream 2" in a phone conversation with the new U.S. President Joe Biden. The official statement of the German Cabinet after the conversation was not provided. German Government’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said only that the two leaders were ready to cooperate in overcoming international challenges.
According to Handelsblatt sources, Merkel government is in no hurry to present any proposals to the Americans, although it welcomed the readiness of the United States to compromise. Berlin believes that "there is little space for significant concessions" "In the end, much has already been done to dispel the doubts of the Americans," said the sources of the newspaper in the German Cabinet.
Berlin insists that Russia has already provided assurances for continuation of gas supplies through Ukraine after the Nord Stream 2 is launched. Moreover, it was the German government that made a lot of efforts in this direction, as well as in reaching agreements between Moscow and Kyiv on gas transit.
A number of German officials still support concessions to the United States. "There used to be an administration that wasn't interested in reaching an agreement. If there is readiness to conduct a dialogue, it is a political opportunity that we should take advantage of," said German Minister of State Niels Annen.