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The U.S. still threatens to sanction companies taking part in the construction of a pipeline between Russia and Germany.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday wrapped up a three-day visit to Brussels, which was meant for a new chapter of his country’s relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
"I came here with one particular focus in mind, and that was to make clear the United States' determination to revitalize our alliances and partnerships," said Blinken at a meeting in which NATO foreign ministers discussed issues ranging from Afghanistan to their organization's 2030 agenda.
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has pledged to revitalize transatlantic relations. In February, he attended the virtual Munich Security Conference and said that "America is back, the transatlantic alliance is back."
Despite these statements, the recent meeting at NATO headquarters evidenced that substantive differences remain between the two sides.
Blinken failed to sidestep some of Washington's major disputes with its allies. By openly criticizing the Nord Stream 2 project, he took stances similar to those held by former President Donald Trump.
MFA spox #Zakharova: . Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project to deliver gas to Europe: ✅sustainable deliveries ✅competitive prices ✅shortest route ✅high environmental standards pic.twitter.com/OI2AGKOXsV
"President Biden has been very clear, he believes the pipeline is a bad idea; it's bad for Europe, bad for the United States. Ultimately, it is in contradiction to the EU's own security goals," the U.S. official said.
The pipeline "has the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland, a number of other close partners or allies," he added, referring to U.S. law that sanctions companies participating in the efforts to complete the pipeline.
Defense spending is another contentious issue between the U.S. and its allies. Washington has accused such NATO states as Germany of failing to contribute 2 percent of its gross domestic product to the military alliance. Germany said it was committed to this goal, but it could not reach it before 2024.
Blinken softened Washington's approach by acknowledging that the allies could "shoulder their share of the burden in different ways."