Biden and Merkel Remain ‘United Against Russian Aggression’

Kamilla Sorskar Engen, Head of International Affairs

14 Jul 2021

Merkel is the second-longest serving Chancellor in German history, after Helmut Kohl, and had a tense relationship with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden noted during their joint news conference that “On a personal note, I must tell you I will miss seeing you at our summits. I truly will.” For her part, Merkel referred to Biden as “Dear Joe” and praised the shared values between Germany and the US, as well as the “determination to tackle the challenges of our times.” Biden told reporters that the two States opposed anti-democratic actions by China, in addition to reaffirming their commitment to resist and “stand together to defend our eastern flank allies at NATO against Russian aggression.” He also stated that the two would “stand up for democratic principles and human rights when we see China or any other country working to undermine free and open societies" and that “We are united, united in our commitment to addressing democratic backsliding, corruption, phony populism in the European Union or among candidates for the EU membership, or anywhere we find it in the world.”

One area where the two allies disagreed was with regard to the $11 billion (£8 billion) Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, as Washington believes it will be utilised by Russia in order to exert political influence and pressure on Eastern and Central European States. It has argued that the pipeline will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, thereby putting pressure on European energy security. Merkel maintained that the pipeline will not replace Ukraine as a gas transit route, and that Russia may face EU sanctions should it breach the agreement to continue to ship gas supplies via Ukraine. Biden recently drew criticism from members of congress for his decision not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 company, and stated that “Good friends can disagree”. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, waived sanctions by explaining that doing so would be in the country’s national interest, as the US attempts to rebuild ties with Germany following tense relations under Trump.

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