us-sanctions 18 June 2020

US sanctions on Nord Stream 2: Germany expresses ‘regret’ and Moscow calls for ‘will’ to finish project

Germany has expressed its ‘regret’ at US plans to expand sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, as Moscow says it expects all parties to ‘meet their contractual obligations’ and finish the project.

The United States has been vehemently opposed to the project, fearing it will increase Russia’s economic and political influence in Germany and other European countries. Last year, Western-owned ships were forced to stop work on the project after a US bill allowed Washington to impose sanctions on any vessel that helps Russia complete the pipeline. Russia has since sent its own vessel to the Baltic Sea to lay the remaining 160 kilometres of pipeline.

Earlier this month, US senators Ted Cruz and Jeanne Shaheen introduced a bill proposing sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project that Russia’s Gazprom is building for energy supplies to Germany. Moscow says the pipeline is 93% complete.

Announcing the proposal, Senator Cruz said, ‘Last year, both parties and both chambers of Congress came together to pass Sen. Shaheen and my bipartisan bill, the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act, in the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act], which was then supported, signed, and implemented across the administration. Nevertheless Putin continues to try to circumvent those sanctions, and so this new bill will once and for all clarify that those involved in any way with installing pipeline for the project will face crippling and immediate American sanctions.’

But in a statement the German Foreign Ministry said new sanctions ‘would constitute a serious interference in European energy security and EU sovereignty.’

At a briefing on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned ‘the aggressive pressure’ of the United States and warned that ‘the situation unfolding is a serious challenge for the EU.’

She said that Moscow is counting on all parties and states involved in the project to show ‘the political will’ to finish the work.

‘We assume that all its parties will be able to meet their contractual obligations in full scope and all the states interested in the new pipeline will show the political will required for implementation of this initiative, strategically important for reliable energy support of united Europe,’ she added.