President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz put up a united front on Monday amid concerns about Russia’s army buildup until difficult questions regarding Nord Stream 2 came up.
The two leaders stood side by side at the White House East Room lecterns, giving introductory statements. Biden described the US-Germany relationship as a “close” friendship and a “reliable” collaboration.
While the two leaders agreed to respond in lockstep to a hypothetical Russian invasion of Ukraine on Monday, there appeared to be a schism between Biden and Scholz on the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 project, which was not addressed in either leader’s opening statements.
When answering reporters’ queries, Biden vowed vehemently to close the line if Russia invaded, but Scholz refused even to use the country’s name. “We will put an end to it,” Biden promised. “I swear to you.
We’ll be able to pull it off.” Scholz was unclear when asked whether he was committing to block the pipeline if President Vladimir Putin’s army went ahead. “We will act as one,” Scholz declared, reiterating Biden’s call for unity.
“We are not going to take any alternative actions. And they will be quite tough on Russia.”
When it comes to the scope of penalties that would be imposed on Russia if Putin goes ahead with an invasion, including a vow to shut down the pipeline, the German Chancellor, who took over from Angela Merkel in December, has been more hesitant than some other Western allies.
Germany has also refused to provide weaponry to Ukraine, raising concerns among critics who claim Berlin is not doing enough to back Kyiv and stop Moscow from striking its southern neighbour.
Nord Stream 2 has been a worry for Biden, as it has been for previous US presidents because Washington thinks the pipeline will expand Europe’s reliance on Russia, which already supplies the majority of Europe’s natural gas.
Despite mounting pressure from its friends, Berlin looks to be sticking to its ambiguous rhetoric on Nord Stream 2. Scholz refused to bend in an interview with CNN on Monday afternoon, insisting that Germany and its partners will respond to Russia “collectively.”
Reports from Various Sources
As per a person familiar with the situation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cancelled a planned meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday since Berlin’s position on the pipeline has not changed.
Ukraine has raised concerns about energy security and concerns that the pipeline, which crosses through the nation, will result in less money for the country’s suffering economy.
“What we’re doing today is giving Russia an extreme response, saying that if you invade Ukraine, you’ll pay a very high price, which will have a significant impact on your economy and development opportunities,” Scholz said on CNN when Jake Tapper asked why he wouldn’t say explicitly that the pipeline would be cancelled.
“And we’re willing to take initiatives that will cost us money.” Biden stated that the two leaders had agreed on a “strong package of penalties,” but he did not explain further during the joint press conference.
During Monday’s press conference, both Scholz and Biden addressed Russia’s imminent danger to Ukraine, with Biden eventually advising Americans that leaving Ukraine would be “smart.”
Scholz’s visit comes as officials in the Biden administration warn that Russia has collected 70% of the forces required to conduct a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Biden seeks to show a united NATO response to the issue.
“I believe it would be prudent to leave the nation.” I don’t mean to ignore our diplomatic corps. “I’m referring to the Americans who are present,” Biden explained. “I’d hate to see them trapped in the crossfire if they did invade.”
Scholz, who hasn’t been as vocal about the growing threat, gave a straightforward response to his level of anxiety. “It is apparent that Ukraine faces a military threat,” the Chancellor stated. “It is evident that this cannot be kept silent.
We can see how many Russian troops are stationed along Ukraine’s border, and this poses a severe threat to European security.” Last week, the German ambassador in Washington warned that an increasing number of legislators in Washington had labelled Germany as an “unreliable partner” in a leaked diplomatic cable.
However, in a Sunday interview with The Washington Post, Scholz defended himself ahead of Monday’s meeting. The German Chancellor stated that his country was collaborating with NATO partners, the European Union, and the United States in response to Russia.
“Our precise reaction is that if they intervene, it will have extremely high prices and that we will work very hard to find a way out of this crisis,” Scholz added. During Monday’s news conference, Biden came to Scholz’s defence, responding to a question aimed at the German Chancellor.
However, Scholz’s hesitation to outline his intentions for Nord Stream 2 was criticised by a reporter, who noted that transparency might “gain back trust” as a solid friend to the US. “There’s no need to re-establish trust.
“The United States has great faith in him,” Biden stated. “Germany is one of our most significant international allies. Germany’s relationship with the United States is undeniable. None. Germany has been one of the greatest financial contributors to Ukraine in terms of assistance.
Germany has been in the frontline of guaranteeing this by providing financial assistance. But, contrary to what the American media claims, Germany is perfectly trustworthy.” As per the White House summary of the meeting, the two leaders also addressed Germany’s G-7 presidency, global Covid response and health security, climate change, and global economic recovery.
They agreed to collaborate with China and promote stability in the Western Balkans. The German Chancellor will visit Ukraine next week before travelling to Moscow to meet with Putin. Scholz told the Post that he would warn him that moving soldiers into Ukraine would cost Russia “a hefty price.”
Biden Called Meeting With Scholz’ Productive’
The US President described the Biden-Scholz meeting as “constructive” and “helpful” at a news conference following the meeting. “At the forefront of our agenda today was our cooperative plan to discourage Russia’s threats against Ukraine, as well as the core concepts of a rule-based international order,” Biden said.
That’s what we spent most of our time talking about.” “Germany and the United States, in collaboration with our Allies and partners, are pursuing diplomatic solutions to this crisis.” And diplomacy, we both think, is the best way forward for all parties, including Russia, in our opinion.
And we’ve made it plain that we’re willing to keep talking to Russia in good faith,” Biden said. It is worth noting that Germany has emphasised the necessity of several diplomatic formats in resolving Russia-Ukraine tensions.
According to the Associated Press, Berlin has even refused to transfer weaponry to Ukraine, irritated some allies. Meanwhile, the US has sent more troops to Poland, Romania, and Germany, as Moscow is accused of increasing its military posture near Ukraine’s border.