Nord Stream 2: European companies succumb to US pressure

Nord Stream 2: European companies succumb to US pressure

The threats of sanctions by the United States against the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 are working: After considerable pressure from the government in Washington, at least 18 European companies have now ended their participation in the controversial project or have promised to withdraw, as stated in a report by the US State Department to Congress.

So far, the US had only imposed sanctions against the Russian company KVT-RUS, which operates the Fortuna lay-ship, in regard to Nord Stream 2. The company and its ship are also explicitly mentioned in the new report. Contrary to expectations, other companies are not punished or threatened with punitive measures at this point.

According to the report, most of the companies that have already ceased or are in the process of ending their participation in Nord Stream 2 are insurance groups, according to the report, with the majority being based in the United Kingdom. However, the Swiss Zurich Insurance Group and the Axa Group, based in Paris, have also ended their work on Nord Stream 2.

The report signed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also explicitly addresses Germany’s position. “The German government is still fully behind the Nord Stream 2 project,” it states. Meanwhile, Germany emphasizes that Nord Stream 2 is a necessary economic project and firmly rejects US sanctions as an attack on Germany’s sovereignty and the European Union.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that the withdrawal of numerous companies from the project shows that the government’s actions were working. He stressed that the US kept up the sanctions threats. “We have made it clear that companies risk sanctions if they are involved in Nord Stream 2.” However, they will continue to consult with allies and not surprise them with unsolicited actions.

The United States is attacking the project as they fear that their partners in Europe are too dependent on Russia and Russian gas. At the end of 2019, construction work on the pipeline was stopped shortly before completion after the US had enacted an initial sanctions law (Peesa) against the ships that laid the pipes. However, US critics argue that the US merely seeks to sell its own gas in Europe.

(Photo: Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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