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German chancellor insists NATO response will be unified if Russia invades Ukraine despite disconnect on gas pipeline

By Jeremy Herb, CNN

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted to CNN that the United States and Germany are on the same page when it comes to Russia and Ukraine, even as he refused to discuss the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Scholz declined to address the pipeline in an exclusive interview Monday with CNN’s Jake Tapper, but said that NATO’s response to a potential Russian invasion would be unified.

“All the steps we will take we will do together,” Scholz said when asked by Tapper why he wouldn’t address the pipeline. “As the President said, we are preparing for that. You can understand and you can be absolutely sure that Germany will be together with all its allies and especially the United States, that we take the same steps. There will be no differences in that situation.”

Despite Scholz’s assurances, the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline set to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany cast a shadow over the German leader’s visit to the White House on Monday. At a joint news conference, US President Joe Biden was explicit in saying that the pipeline would be stopped in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The notion Nord Stream 2 would go forward with an invasion by the Russians is just not going to happen,” Biden said.

Scholz, however, did not specifically address the pipeline at the news conference, beyond saying that the two countries and NATO were on the same page when it came to sanctions and responding to Russia’s aggression.

On Monday, a meeting between German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was canceled, the official reason being a scheduling error.

A source close to the Ukrainian government, however, told Tapper that the meeting did not take place because the German foreign minister refused to say whether Germany would abandon the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline if Russia invades, and that Germany has not provided military assistance to Ukraine.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said reports the meeting was canceled “in order to send a political message are divorced from reality.” CNN stands by its reporting.

Scholz said the idea that Germany was more aligned with Russia than the West was “nonsense,” arguing in Monday’s interview that Germany has been an important financial partner to Kyiv.

“We are the biggest donator, together with the United States, to Ukraine,” Scholz said. “It’s more than $2 billion we’ve spent since 2014.”

Scholz also addressed the prospect of renegotiating the Iranian nuclear deal, which Germany played a role in when the agreement was first reached in 2015.

“This is now the time for Iran to make a decision,” Scholz told Tapper. “There is no time for prolonging the debates and things like that which happened in the past.”

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