Germany ‘Regrets’ US Piling More Sanctions on Russia-Sponsored Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline
US Senators have back a second piece of legislation targetting the controversial natural gas pipeline project.
Germany’s government has expressed its “regret” over a recently announced US plans to slap further sanctions on the Russian-sponsored Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project.
Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline project to deliver natural gas from Russia directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea by doubling the volume of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
The latter was opened in 2011, with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.
In December 2019, under the US National Defense Authorization Act for 2020, the United States imposed sanctions on firms working on the nearly-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The US sanctions led Swiss company Allseas to suspend the pipe laying and withdraw from the project.
Russia has assured it has the capacity to complete the pipeline on its own, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying in January that the new pipeline would become operational by 2021.
Last Thursday, however, US senators approved new Nord Stream 2 sanctions under the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act.
Their rationale was the same as was the case with the December 2019 sanctions, namely, that the pipeline project was designed to boost Russia’s economic and political influence in Germany and in Europe in general.
The German government on Sunday said it had “noted with regret” the new US plans to expand sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
“New sanctions would constitute a serious interference in European energy security and EU sovereignty,” a statement by the German Foreign Ministry said, as cited by DW.
The Nord Stream 2 project is supported by a wide array of politicians and energy companies in Germany although the political support it enjoys is not universal.
Last week, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier criticized the United States for “escalating this sanctions threat, which is extraterritorial and thus in conflict with international law.”
Nord Stream 2 spokesperson Jens Mueller in turn warned that European households and industries would pay “billions more” for gas if the pipeline were not built.
“Decisions about European Union energy policy should be left to Europeans,” Mueller said.
Pro-Nord Stream 2 critics from Germany and Russia have argued that the US sanctions are largely motivated by the Washington’s desire to promote the sale of American liquefied natural gas in Europe.
That desire has been openly expressed by the Trump administration, which argues the sale of American natural gas to America’s European allies is a “win-win”, and has described its alternative to Russian supplies as “freedom gas.”
The new US legislation stipulating additional sanctions on Nord Stream 2 has been spearheaded by Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
“[The law] makes clear those involved with vessels installing the pipeline will face crippling and immediate sanctions,” Cruz said.
The push to stop Nord Stream 2, however, has been enjoying bipartisan support in the US Congress, with Jeanne Shaheen, a Democatic senator, stating that the pipeline threatened Ukraine and Europe’s energy independence and “gives Russia an opening to exploit our allies.”
(Banner Image: Nord Stream 2 website)