US looks into ways of helping Ukraine retain its gas transit fees — Blinken

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WASHINGTON, June 9. /TASS/. The United States is examining various options to help Ukraine retain its gas transit fees following the Nord Stream 2 launch, including persuading European partners to extend gas transit agreements with Kiev for “many years into the future,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

“There are a number of things that we are looking at, that we need to look at, and, of course, we need Germany and others to look at and ultimately take action on,” he told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “One is the possibility of actually extending the existing transit agreement for many years into the future, so that Ukraine will continue to benefit from the transit fees.”

Another option is to compensate for the transit fees that Kiev may lose when Nord Stream 2 becomes operational, Blinken added.

He also mentioned the possibility of modernizing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

“There’s another thing that is really important here and which sometimes gets missed in the equation – Ukraine’s own energy potential and efficiency potential is very, very much unrealized. And if Ukraine used energy more efficiently than it does, a lot of the leverage that Russia might acquire will be diminished significantly,” the US top diplomat said.

The Nord Stream 2 project implies the construction of two lines of a gas pipeline with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The work was suspended in December 2019 after the Swiss Allseas Group abandoned pipe-laying due to possible US sanctions. In December 2020, the construction of the gas pipeline resumed after a year’s pause. By now, Nord Stream 2 is 95% completed.

On May 21, the United States blacklisted 13 Russian ships involved in the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Among the blacklisted ships are the vessels Akademik Cherskiy, Artemis Offshore, Bakhtemir, Baltic Explorer, Finval, Kapitan Beklemishev, Murman, Narval, Sivuch, Spasatel Karev, Umka, Vladislav Strizhov, and Yury Topchev.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 19 that Washington ditched the idea of imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 operator, Nord Stream 2 AG, and the company’s Chief Executive Officer Matthias Warnig. In his words, this decision corresponds to the national interests of the United States.