Germany and the United States have announced a deal to allow the completion of a controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions.
The agreement on Nord Stream 2, announced on Wednesday, says Germany and the U.S. commit to countering any future Russian attempt to use the pipeline as a political tool.
The two states also agreed to support Ukraine and Poland, which view the project as a security threat, by funding alternative energy and development projects.
In a joint statement, the two governments said they were "united in their determination to hold Russia to account for aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools" - referring largely to Russian support for separatists in Ukraine.
There are long-held concerns that Nord Stream 2 could give Russia too much power over European gas supplies, or allow gas to be shut off to Russia's adversaries.
But the pipeline is almost completed and has had the staunch support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel throughout the process.
The joint statement says that “should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon, or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions."
Germany and the U.S. have both committed to supporting a $1 billion (€850 million) fund for Ukraine to diversify its energy sources, of which Germany will provide an initial $175 million (€148.5 million).
Germany has also guaranteed it will reimburse Ukraine for gas transit fees it will lose from being bypassed by Nord Stream 2 until 2024, with a possible 10-year extension.
In a nod to Poland, Germany has also agreed to sign the 'Three Seas Initiative', an EU and U.S.-promoted scheme that aim to boost energy security among countries bordering the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic seas.
The deal has already attracted condemnation from Ukraine and Poland. In a joint statement issued on Wednesday night, the countries' two foreign ministers, Dmytro Kuleba and Zbigniew Rau called the deal struck "insufficient".
The Kremlin said on Thursday in a readout of a call between President Vladimir Putin and Merkel that the two "leaders are satisfied with the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline" described as "a strictly commercial venture".