Angela Merkel Doesn't Think U.S., Germany Will Come to Quick Agreement on Disputed Pipeline

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she does not think the United States and Germany will come to a quick agreement regarding a disputed Russian gas pipeline.

Merkel is meeting with President Joe Biden on Thursday this week, and said while she will discuss the issue at the White House, she does not believe the matter will be resolved at that time.

"I don't know whether the papers will be fully finalized, so to speak. I believe rather not," Merkel said. "But these will be important talks for developing a common position."

Sanctions imposed against German companies involved in the project by the U.S. were recently waived, which raised hopes in Berlin that the two countries may soon be able to find an acceptable agreement on the matter.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Ukrainian President (not in picture) give statements ahead of talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on July 12, 2021. Merkel plans to discuss the disputed Russian pipeline with U.S. President Joe Biden at a meeting on Thursday. Stefanie Loos/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Washington has long argued that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany endangers Europe's energy security and harms allies such as Ukraine, which currently profits from transit fees for Russian gas.

Germany is keen to increase its use of natural gas as it completes the shutdown of its nuclear power plants next year and phases out the use of heavily polluting coal by 2038.

Merkel's comments to reporters in Berlin came ahead of a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has warned that Nord Stream 2 poses a threat to his country's energy security. Should Russia route all of its gas around Ukraine in the future, the country might be cut off from the supplies it needs, putting it at further risk of being pressured by Moscow.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supports separatists in Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland of Donbas.

Zelenskyy said he was looking for guarantees that Ukraine will remain a transit country for Russian gas beyond 2024. He also suggested that the gas issue should become part of four-way talks between his country, Russia, Germany and France on solving the conflict in eastern Ukraine and that the United States could join those negotiations.

Merkel said she took Ukraine's concerns seriously and that Germany and the European Union would use their weight in negotiations with Russia to ensure the agreements are extended.

"We have promised this to Ukraine and we will stick to that. I keep my promises and I believe that is true also for any future German chancellor," she said.

Merkel isn't running for a fifth term in Germany's national election on Sept. 26.

She also announced that Germany will give Ukraine 1.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, with more shots possibly to come.

Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not pictured, give statements ahead of talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, Monday, July 12, 2021. Stefanie Loos/Pool Photo via AP