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Merkel (R) speaks with Biden at the G20 summit. Photo: Sandra Steins/Bundesregierung via Getty

The White House is not expecting any agreement on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline to emerge from President Biden's meeting on Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite speculation that such a deal could be close.

Why it matters: The Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline faces strong bipartisan opposition in Washington, but Biden in May waived sanctions on the company working to complete it. The White House noted that the pipeline was already mostly finished and said Biden wanted good relations with Germany and "diplomatic space" to reach a deal with Merkel on the pipeline issue.

The big picture: Despite declining to impose those key sanctions, the Biden administration calls the pipeline a "Kremlin geopolitical project." To Ukraine, it's a dire national security threat.

  • Russian gas currently flows through Ukraine en route to Europe. Nord Stream 2 would bypass Ukraine and give Russia valuable leverage over its former client state.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was deeply disappointed with Biden's decision to waive sanctions, he told Axios in June. Other countries in Central and Eastern Europe were also concerned.

The White House wants a deal with Germany that includes "concrete mechanisms to ensure that energy is not used as a coercive tool against Ukraine, our eastern flank allies or any other country," the senior official said.

  • Various ideas have been floated to make it more difficult for Russia to shut off gas supplies to Ukraine and to assuage other security concerns surrounding the pipeline.
  • Both sides are aiming for a deal by August, at which time the Biden administration will have to report back to Congress on the sanctions waiver.
  • Merkel told reporters on Wednesday that she planned to discuss Nord Stream with Biden on what could be her last official visit to Washington, but when asked whether she thought she'd leave with a deal, said, "I think rather not."

The bottom line: The senior administration official was more concrete: "We are not anticipating any formal announcement or deliverable [on Nord Stream] coming out of the leaders' meeting tomorrow."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden to host Boris Johnson at the White House next week

President Biden speaks at the White House during a virtual event with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden plans to host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House next week, according to people familiar with the preparations.

Why it matters: Rewarding Johnson with a White House visit is another indication that the two leaders plan to work collaboratively on COVID-19, China and climate change.

Biden's muddled China policy

President Biden looks at Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins them in virtual announcement of a trilateral nuclear submarine agreement. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden came into office with a plan for dealing with China that sounded great in theory but's failing in practice.

Why it matters: The idea was to confront China aggressively on a range of issues — from trade abuses to human rights — while working cooperatively on areas of mutual interest, including climate change. A new plan to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines makes that both-ways approach even less realistic.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.