Internet censorship in Cuba amid protests; the pressure is mounting against Huawei

Russia and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Despite all their apparent courtesy, Biden and Merkel have been at loggerheads over the construction of this pipeline, which, if completed, would massively increase the shipment of natural gas directly from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Germany says the project is crucial to compensating for declining gas production in Europe, as well as helping it meet its goal of phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2038.

But Washington says the project would allow an already brazen Kremlin to arm gas exports in order to harm US ally Ukraine. Until now, this country has been an important transit country for Russian gas exports to Europe. But if Nord Stream 2 allows the Kremlin to shut off gas in Kiev without harming its main European consumers, Moscow will surely be emboldened to do so. Merkel said this week that Germany will protect Ukrainian interests, but Kiev does not appear to buy it.

As part of an attempt to patch up Germany, Biden recently lifted sanctions (imposed by the Trump administration) on the company behind Nord Stream 2. But the move has won him many convictions at home. , with Republicans and Democrats claiming the move was a boon to Russia.

The shenanigans of Afghanistan and NATO. If Washington is irritated by Germany’s unilateral action with Nord Stream 2, well, Berlin is also irritated by the US withdrawal plan from Afghanistan, which was authorized without any consultation with the Germans. Germany had the second largest military presence in Afghanistan, sending 150,000 troops over the past two decades. Moreover, the Germans are still suspicious after Trump announced last year that the United States would withdraw 12,000 troops stationed in Germany, offering no strategic justification for the move. Although Biden backed down, the United States going alone in Afghanistan only heightened German fears.

What to do with China. Countering China’s growing global influence and national repression is a priority for the Biden administration, and the one thing that seems to unify Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The US president said cooperation from European and Asia-Pacific allies was essential to contain China.

But Merkel, on the other hand, has tried to strengthen the EU’s ties with Beijing and has long backed a now stalled EU-China investment deal, even over US objections. The disagreement also extends to Chinese telecommunications: While Washington has long waged a campaign against Chinese tech titan Huawei, citing cybersecurity concerns, Berlin announced in February that it would not ban equipment made by Huawei. of its 5G networks. Merkel said at the time that while the United States and Europe should develop a “common agenda on China”, that does not necessarily mean “that our interests will always converge”.

What further complicates matters is the fact that this meeting takes place barely 10 weeks before the German elections. which will mark the end of Merkel’s 16 years in power. Merkel will seek to consolidate her national political legacy and is well placed to do so, given that her CDU / CSU coalition is currently leading the polls after a few difficult months. But nodding to Americans on Nord Stream 2 and China are not popular games with German voters. Interestingly, 53% of Germans polled told the European Council on Foreign Relations that Americans cannot be trusted in the post-Trump era.

Without looking back. As the US elections approach last year, Heiko Maas, German Foreign Minister, said: “Anyone who thinks that everything in the transatlantic partnership will be like it used to be with a Democratic president underestimates structural changes.” . This will be fully on display when Merkel meets her last US president.

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