Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Ukrainian leader visits US, demands shutdown of Russian gas pipeline

KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — Ukraine’s leader is traveling to the United States this week in hopes of bolstering security ties with Washington and persuading the government to lift sanctions against a new Russian gas pipeline bypassing his country. will do.

President Volodymyr Zelensky considers it a “serious political mistake” that Washington did not block the construction of the Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline reaching Germany, and plans to raise the issue again during his talks with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday. are supposed to.

Zelensky described the new pipeline as a powerful geopolitical weapon for Russia.

On its part, the United States has pledged up to $60 million in military aid to Ukraine, the Biden administration said in a notification to Congress on Tuesday.

The US government said the aid package was necessary because of “a significant increase in Russian military activity along the Ukrainian border” and mortar attacks, ceasefire violations and other provocations.

The aid is meant to show that the United States is committed to Ukraine’s security as the former Soviet republic seeks stronger Western support amid a Russian military build-up and rising tensions. The new package would include more Javelin anti-tank missiles, which Kyiv considers essential to combat Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Pentagon announced a $125 million military aid package for Ukraine in March, which includes two armed patrol boats to help the country defend its territorial waters.

Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 after ousting a president who was a Kremlin ally and has since backed a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Washington opposes construction of Nord Stream 2, but the Biden administration has chosen not to punish the German company overseeing the project, announcing new sanctions against Russian companies and ships.

Zelensky warned that Nord Stream 2 would be a major victory for Moscow and a “personal loss” for Biden. The undisciplined comments reflect Kyiv’s fear that the new pipeline will deprive the country of $3 billion in annual transit fees for pumping Russian gas to Europe, undermining its strategic importance and making it more vulnerable to pressure from the Kremlin. Will give

Yury Vitrenko, head of Ukraine’s state oil and gas company Naftogaz, told The Associated Press that Ukraine will urge the United States to impose tougher sanctions on Nord Stream 2.

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Eric Tucker reported from Washington.

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