Tag Archives: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

US Blinken warns German Maas about Nord Stream 2 sanctions | Instant News


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that he had told his German counterpart that sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline were a real possibility and had “no ambiguity” in America’s opposition to its construction.

FILE PHOTOS: A road sign directs traffic towards the entrance of the Nord Stream 2 gas line landing facility in Lubmin, Germany, 10 September 2020. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke

Berlin has so far bet that the new administration of US President Joe Biden will take a pragmatic approach to the project to deliver Russian gas to Europe as it is nearing completion, officials and diplomats have told Reuters.

Echoing Biden’s concerns about a pipeline from Russia to Germany, Blinken said he told German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday in a private meeting that companies involved in the project risked being hit by sanctions, especially when construction might be completed.

“I explained that companies that are involved in the risk of pipe construction are subject to US sanctions. The pipeline divides Europe, exposing Ukraine and central Europe to Russian manipulation and coercion, it goes against Europe’s own stated energy goals, ”Blinken told a news conference.

The Kremlin says Nord Stream 2, a $ 11 billion venture led by Russian state energy company Gazprom, is a commercial project, but some US administrations have opposed the project and Europe has pledged to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

The United States and Eastern European Union countries such as Poland say Nord Stream 2 is part of Russia’s economic and political action to manipulate European countries and damage transatlantic relations.

“What I said (to Maas) is that we will continue to monitor activities to complete or certify the pipeline and if those activities take place, we will enforce sanctions,” Blinken said.

He said it was important to get the message directly to Maas, “just to clarify our position and to make sure there is no ambiguity.”

Reuters reported on February 24 that 18 companies had recently stopped working on the pipeline to avoid sanctions.

Asked about a possible compromise in which Germany’s energy grid regulators could be empowered to stop gas flow if Russia crosses the line, Blinken declined to comment.

Last month, Germany’s former ambassador to the United States floated the idea of ​​a compromise between Washington and Berlin that would have the finished pipeline used as political leverage.

The triggers for what the former envoy, Wolfgang Ischinger, calls the “emergency brake” may include violent turmoil between Ukraine and Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, or if Moscow tries to undermine Kyiv’s existing gas transit infrastructure.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Edited by Andrew Heavens and Edmund Blair

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Germany is ready for a ‘new chapter’ in transatlantic relations | Instant News


BERLIN, February 19 (Reuters) – Germany is poised for a “new chapter” in transatlantic relations in which the United States and Europe follow a common agenda, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.

“In our principles and values, in our belief in democracy and its ability to act, we have a broad and sound basis,” he told the Munich Security Conference via video link.

“There is a lot to be done, and Germany is gearing up for a new transatlantic chapter.”

Big challenges like the pandemic and climate change must be tackled together in multilateralism, he said, and the United States and Europe must have a similar attitude towards Russia.

“It is very important for us to develop a general Russian transatlantic agenda, which on the one hand makes cooperative offers, but on the other hand clearly identifies differences,” he said. (Reporting by Paul Carrel; Written by Maria Sheahan)

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Berlin has welcomed Biden’s announcement to keep US troops in Germany | Instant News


FILE PHOTO: German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks during the inauguration ceremony of German armed forces Bundeswehr soldiers at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, November 12, 2020. REUTERS / Michele Tantussi

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Friday welcomed the announcement from US President Joe Biden that US troops stationed in Germany will stay.

“We clearly understand the confirmation of America’s commitment to European security, a strong NATO, and a strategically united West,” he told Reuters, responding to Biden’s speech at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

“These signals will be well heeded and understood,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer. “Now it is up to us to take the hand that has been extended by Washington.”

Kramp-Karrenbauer said defending the security of Europe and the Atlantic is a joint effort and a joint obligation.

“We need to respond by demonstrating our own commitment to this goal – in our defense spending, in our joint military deployments abroad, strengthening NATO, and the capabilities of our armed forces”, he added.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Edited by Paul Carrel

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Germany warned against withdrawing from Afghanistan immediately | Instant News


FILE PHOTO: Outgoing leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer removes his face mask ahead of the second day of the party’s 33rd congress held online amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Berlin, Germany January 16 2021. Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) – Peace talks for Afghanistan have not made sufficient progress to allow the withdrawal of foreign troops, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Wednesday ahead of a virtual meeting with his NATO counterparts.

The Afghan government and Taliban militants started peace talks in Doha last September, but negotiations have largely stalled.

NATO defense ministers will discuss on Thursday whether the Taliban make a separate 2020 peace deal with the United States, which calls on militants to curb attacks and foreign forces to withdraw by May 1.

Washington is currently reviewing this agreement.

“This (lack of progress on peace talks) means we must prepare for a changing security situation and an increasing threat to international forces and our own troops,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.

Germany has contributed around 1,100 troops to the NATO mission, totaling 9,600, training and assisting Afghan troops. The mission also includes about 2,500 US military personnel.

Many fear that the progress of two decades of foreign intervention in Afghanistan could quickly unravel if NATO troops withdraw, threatening gains in areas from women’s rights to democracy.

In his statement, Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said on Monday that the Taliban must do more to meet the terms of the 2020 peace agreement with the United States.

Attacks in Afghanistan, including the bomb that killed the deputy governor of the capital Kabul in December, have prompted members of the US Congress and international rights groups to call for a postponement of the withdrawal agreed to under former President Donald Trump.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Edited by Madeline Chambers and Gareth Jones

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European human rights courts back Germany in the Kunduz air raid case | Instant News


Berlin (Reuters) – A German inquiry into the deadly 2009 air strike near the Afghan city of Kunduz was ordered by a German commander to fulfill his right-to-life obligations, a European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Afghan police inspect the location of the air raid in Kunduz 4 September 2009. REUTERS / Wahdat

The Strasbourg-based court ruling rejected complaints by Afghan Abdul Hanan, who lost two of his sons in the attack, that Germany was not fulfilling its obligation to investigate the incident effectively.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO forces in Kunduz summoned a US fighter jet to attack two fuel trucks near a town that NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government says at that time 99 people, including 30 civilians, had died. Independent rights groups estimate that between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germany and eventually forced its defense minister to resign over accusations of covering up civilian casualties ahead of the 2009 German elections.

Germany’s federal attorney general has found that the commander is not subject to criminal responsibility, mainly because he believed when he ordered the airstrikes that no civilians were present.

In order for him to be held accountable under international law, he must be shown to have acted with a view to causing excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considers the effectiveness of the German investigation, including whether it establishes a justification for the use of lethal force. It doesn’t take into account the legality of air strikes.

Of the 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second largest contingent behind the United States.

The 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but US President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 to the end of this year, with troops remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold

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