US Appoints Diplomat to Nord Stream 2 Role

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has appointed seasoned energy diplomat Amos Hochstein as a senior adviser for energy security, a role in which he will initially focus on issues raised by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Hochstein -- an aide to President Joe Biden during his time in the Senate -- served as the top diplomat for energy issues in the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources under former US President Barack Obama. In addition to Nord Stream 2, Hochstein will focus on climate goals. Blinken said in a statement that the appointment underscores a "commitment to promote energy security for the [US] and our allies and partners." Hochstein's appointment indicates that the Biden administration does not view Nord Stream 2 as a fully resolved issue, despite Washington's July agreement with Berlin to retaliate if Russia tries to use energy as a weapon (OD Jul.21'21). Last month's US-German statement is best seen as a "a political commitment by the US and Germany to stand up and push back on Putin," says the Atlantic Council's Dan Fried, a former top sanctions official at the State Department. But Fried said the lack of details in that statement means Hochstein and other officials from the US, Germany, Ukraine and Poland need to start fleshing it out. In particular, he said they should prepare a list of responses to potential moves by Russia, so they are ready to act without delay if they need to. "Amos' job is to take the many nonbinding provisions of the joint statement and turn them into action," Fried said.

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