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President Biden with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and 10 of his European counterparts signed onto a joint statement Monday voicing their opposition to the U.S.-Germany deal on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, calling it "another tool" for Russia to "pressure and blackmail" Ukraine.

Why it matters: Outrage over the agreement, which will allow Russia to circumvent Ukraine and deliver gas directly to Europe, goes beyond just Republican Biden critics on Capitol Hill.

The big picture: The Biden administration itself has condemned Nord Stream 2 as "a Kremlin geopolitical project that threatens European energy security," but argues that the pipeline's completion is a "fait accompli" and that more sanctions would only serve to damage relations with Germany.

  • Under the terms of the deal, Germany agreed to take action if Russia tries to "use energy as a weapon," set up a "green fund" to help Ukraine modernize its energy sector, and seek to ensure Russia continues to pay Ukraine around $3 billion in gas transit fees annually.
  • Poland and Ukraine released a joint statement last month condemning the steps as "not sufficient."

What they're saying: The 11 parliamentary chairs said in a statement that the completion of Nord Stream 2 "will strengthen the impact of Russian gas in the European energy mix, endanger the national security of EU member states and the United States, and threaten the already precarious security and sovereignty of Ukraine."

  • They condemned Russia's "brutal aggression and military occupation" of Ukraine, and called on NATO and the EU to deliver a road map for Ukraine to obtain membership.
  • “We insist that any further agreements on Nord Stream 2 necessitate consultations across the transatlantic family," the chairs concluded. "Moreover, such diplomacy should happen with the fundamental principle in mind - countering malign Russian aggression is in all of NATO's, all EU members, and our partners in Central and Eastern Europe vital national security interests."

The statement was signed by:

  • 🇺🇸 Bob Menendez, chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • 🇪🇪 Marko Mihkelson, chair of the Estonian Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee
  • 🇨🇿 Ondřej Veselý, chair of the Czech Chamber of Deputies' Foreign Affairs Committee
  • 🇨🇿 Pavel Fischer, chair of the Czech Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security Committee
  • 🇮🇪 Charles Flanagan, chair of the Irish House of Oireachtas' Foreign Affairs Committee
  • 🇱🇻 Rihards Kols, chair of the Latvian Saeima's Foreign Affairs Committee
  • 🇵🇱 Marek Kuchciński, chair of the Polish Sejm's Foreign Affairs Committee
  • 🇵🇱 Bogdan Klich, chair of the Polish Senate's Foreign and European Union Affairs Committee
  • 🇺🇦 Oleksandr Merezhko, chair of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada's Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation
  • 🇬🇧 Tom Tugenhadt, chair of the U.K. House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee
  • 🇱🇹 Žygimantas Pavilionis, chair of the Lithuanian Seimas' Foreign Affairs Committee

Go deeper

Former Giuliani associate pleads guilty in campaign finance case

Igor Fruman at a federal court in New York City in October 2019. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A former associate of Rudy Giuliani pleaded guilty to soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national on Friday, almost two years after being charged with campaign finance violations, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Igor Fruman's plea may put pressure on Giuliani, who is the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation into his dealing in Ukraine, which Furman assisted with.

1 hour ago - World

Pope Francis urges bishops to listen to survivors of sexual abuse

Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on September 15, 2021 in Sastin, Slovakia. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday urged European bishops to listen to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, saying "these important discussions truly touch the future of the church," AP reports.

Driving the news: Francis spoke in a video message to Central and Eastern European bishops who are convening in Poland for a four-day child protection conference beginning on Sunday.

Students vandalize and steal from schools for viral TikTok challenge

TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A viral TikTok challenge is leading students nationwide to shatter mirrors, steal fire alarms and intentionally clog toilets, The Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Dubbed the the “Devious Licks challenge, students are showing off their "devious licks" on TikTok — with a sped-up version of "Ski Ski BasedGod" by rapper Lil’ B playing in the background.

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