Brussels (Brussels Morning) As During Wednesday’s meeting between top Russian and US diplomats met in Reykjavik on Wednesday, the Biden administration announced it is to waive sanctions against the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and its CEO, in a rare show of good will ahead of a potential meeting between President Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting on Wednesday evening. State Department sources indicated that, while the meeting did not lead to any breakthroughs in relations between Moscow and Washington, it did provide “a good start” to work on relations in coming weeks and months and for the future.
Blinken emphasised that Biden wants “a predictable, stable relationship” with Russia, and listed a range of issues where the two sides could cooperate on common goals, including tackling the coronavirus pandemic, combating climate emergency, resolving issues with the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, and also the war with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Speaking to Russian media, Lavrov described the meeting as “constructive”, noting that Moscow was willing to discuss all issues between the two countries on the “basis of mutual respect.” The two diplomats also agreed to prepare proposals for a possible meeting between Biden and Putin.
As the nearly two-hour long session was underway, Washington announced fresh sanctions against some ships and entities involved in the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but also declared it had decided to waive the sanctions on the pipeline’s parent company and its CEO.
After the meeting, Blinken defended the sanctions’ waiver, claiming the move was in the US’s national interest, even though a previous State Department report had concluded that Nord Stream 2 AG and its head Matthias Warning, a close Putin ally, had engaged in sanctionable activities.