The axios.com website quoted Zelensky as saying that he learned through the press—not any direct heads-up—that US President Joe Biden had decided to stop trying to block the Russian pipeline, an energy project that Ukraine sees as a dire national security threat.
"Well, to be honest, we were very surprised," Zelensky said when asked in an interview how he felt when he found out that the Biden administration was waving sanctions on the company overseeing the construction of "Putin's pipeline."
"This is a weapon, a real weapon ... in the hands of the Russian Federation," Zelensky said, referring to Nord Stream 2.
"It is not very understandable ... that the bullets to this weapon can possibly be provided by such a great country as the United States," he added, as cited by axios.com.
Zelensky spoke to Axios after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month announced that Biden's administration had waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind the contested undersea gas pipeline, and its CEO Matthias Warnig.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said at the end of last month that the ongoing construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany under the Baltic Sea was part of a wider “geopolitical power play” by these two countries.
"The construction of Nord Stream 2 is part of a massive geopolitical power play on the part of Russia and Germany," Müller told Polish state television TVP.
A spokesman for Poland’s ruling conservatives, Radosław Fogiel, has voiced regret about the US administration's decision to waive sanctions on the company overseeing the construction of Nord Stream 2.
Polish Deputy Infrastructure Minister Marcin Horała said last month that "the US sanctions decisions are bound to cause concern, especially as the move has been presented in the media as Washington in a sense consenting to Nord Stream 2."
Republican lawmakers in the United States have slammed the Biden administration's decision to waive sanctions on the company in charge of building the disputed pipeline, news media have reported.
A US State Department report sent to Congress last month concluded that Nord Stream 2 AG and Warnig, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, engaged in sanctionable activity, but Blinken immediately waived those sanctions, citing US national interests, the Reuters news agency reported.
It noted that the decision came as the Biden administration seeks to rebuild ties with Germany after those were strained under Donald Trump's presidency.
The US State Department has instead slapped sanctions on four Russian ships, including the pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy, while also imposing measures on five other Russian entities, including the Russian Marine Rescue Service, according to Reuters.
Blinken said in a statement on May 19: "Today's actions demonstrate the administration’s commitment to energy security in Europe, consistent with the President’s pledge to rebuild relationships with our allies and partners in Europe."
Nord Stream 2, designed to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream undersea gas pipeline, is expected to send around 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas a year directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea while bypassing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine.
Poland has strongly criticized the gas link amid concerns that the pipeline will make the European Union more dependent on Russian gas.
Source: energetyka24.com, axios.com