Ukraine can be sure that Germany and the European Union will guarantee its status as a transit country for Russian gas even after the opening of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.
Merkel made the announcement during a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy three days before she holds talks in Washington with US President Joe Biden, whose administration is opposed to the pipeline's near-completion.
“The European Union and Germany will make sure that this continues after 2024,” said Merkel. “We have promised Ukraine and we will keep our promise. It is my custom to keep my word, and I believe that this applies to every future chancellor. ”
Washington and Kiev fear that Russia could use a pipeline that will carry Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea to rob Ukraine of lucrative transit fees and potentially undermine its fight against Russian-backed separatists.
Zelensky suggested including the issue of Ukraine's energy security in the so-called Normandy format negotiations, where Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany discuss the status of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Earlier in July, the head of the German Ministry of Finance, Olaf Scholz, also said that Germany would also seek to extend the agreement on gas transit through Ukraine. “We are working very actively to make sure that the gas transit agreement between Ukraine and Russia would be extended,” Scholz said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
According to Scholz, Germany sees its responsibility to ensure transit through Ukraine in the future, and not only for two or three years, but for decades to come.
The current agreement, according to the representative of the German government Steffen Seibert, is valid until at least 2024, but the agreement implies that the parties will check the possibility of extending the agreement until 2034.
In May, Biden lifted sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.