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Merkel reassures Ukraine on gas transit after Nord Stream 2

July 12, 2021

The German Chancellor promised Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy her support amid concerns over the controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Angela Merkel and Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak at a press conference.
Ukraine's president was in Berlin for a series of talksImage: Stefanie Loos/AP Photo/picture alliance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday vowed to guarantee Ukraine's status as an oil transit country for Russian gas even after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is completed. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was meeting with top German officials on Monday in Berlin.

Merkel and Zelenskyy are set to travel to Washington for talks with US President Joe Biden, whose administration is against the almost completed pipeline. 

The route of Nord Stream 2 pipeline demonstrated on a map.
The underwater pipeline would transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through Denmark's Baltic Sea

What did Merkel say? 

"For us, Ukraine is and will remain a transit country even once Nord Stream 2 is completed," Merkel said at a Berlin press conference alongside Zelenskyy. "There are big worries about this on the Ukrainian side and we take those seriously," she added.

"The European Union and Germany will see to it that this continues in the future beyond 2024," said Merkel.

"We promised Ukraine and will keep our promise. It is my custom to keep my word and I believe this applies to every future chancellor."

Since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Germany has been extensively involved in dealing with Ukraine. But relations between Ukraine and Germany have soured more recently. 

Normandy format again? 

Zelenskyy called for guarantees for Ukraine's future energy supply by addressing the issue through what is known as the Normandy format — talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine to resolve the war in Donbass. 

Zelenskyy said the US could also be included in talks in a new format. 

Merkel said energy could be addressed if another meeting were held in the Normandy format, although she was reluctant to push the formal framework of the talks beyond their limits. 

What else was on the agenda?

Merkel also promised Ukraine 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. 

In addition to discussing German-Ukraine relations, talks covered the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Signed in February 2015 between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and proto-states the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, this was a package of measures to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Germany has insisted that adhering to the 2014 agreement is the way to bring peace to the region. 

It is expected to be Merkel's final meeting with Zelenskyy before her retirement, following German national elections in September.

Zelenskyy also met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Bellevue Palace. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Ukraine's Zelenskyy kicked off his visit in Berlin with a meeting with German President Frank-Walter SteinmeierImage: MICHELE TANTUSSI/REUTERS

fb, kmm/rs (AFP, dpa, Reuters)