Washington calls on European countries to prevent the implementation of the project, which could create big problems for Ukraine and some other countries
US officials at an energy conference in Brussels warned that the Trump administration will impose sanctions on European companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which plans to supply gas from Russia to Germany bypassing Ukraine.
The new pipeline will largely replace the old one that runs through Ukraine and Poland. The project enjoys the support of the German government, but worries the Central European countries, who are outraged that Berlin is ignoring their fears.
They object to the construction of Nord Stream 2, which will stretch 1,200 km under the Baltic Sea from Vyborg to Lubmin, not only because they will lose lucrative transit fees from the old pipeline, but also out of fear that the Kremlin wants to use the project more politically. than for commercial purposes.
Speaking at an energy conference in the Belgian capital, State Department deputy director for Europe, Nicole Gibson, warned that if European companies resume pipeline work this year, they risk facing “substantial sanctions.”.
While declining to elaborate on any details about these sanctions, Gibson stressed that Washington does not consider the issue of building the pipeline to be settled. “Some say that the construction of Nord Stream 2 is a fait accompli. We do not see it that way … We urge European leaders to make sure that the project is not implemented ”.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned that the project would allow the Kremlin to turn off gas to Ukraine and Central Europe as soon as it wants to blackmail its closest neighbors, while not stopping supplies to Western Europe and minimizing the risk of backlash from more influential European countries..
Gibson’s warning, raising political stakes, came two months after US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell sent letters to dozens of European construction and energy companies warning that they would face sanctions if they resumed laying concrete-lined steel pipes for Severny in the spring. stream-2 “. Construction work was suspended in December due to weather.
Washington is consistent in its position on this project: the administration of President Barack Obama was also critical.
However, President Trump has taken a tougher approach: his administration sees a serious political threat behind the new pipeline. They insist that Nord Stream 2 will undermine European security, increase Western Europe’s dependence on Russian energy resources, and give the Kremlin an additional opportunity to use gas supplies to exert political pressure and blackmail against Western European states..
Nord Stream 2, which will be owned by state energy giant Gazprom, will double the potential for Russian gas supplies to Germany, Europe’s leading economy. The pipeline will cost billions of dollars. Russia currently supplies a third of the gas consumed by Europe, but taking into account the increase in demand, its share in the next decade may reach 50 percent, experts predict.
Last July, during the annual NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Nord Stream, saying: “We are supposed to protect you from Russia, but Germany is making pipeline deals with Russia. … And you tell me it’s appropriate. Explain how this can be “.
However, Merkel continues to bend her line under pressure from German companies claiming that Nord Stream 2 will allow them to cut energy costs. Apparently, the Chancellor intends to backtrack on the promise she made last year to the leaders of Central European countries, for the first time acknowledging the geopolitical concerns of the allies and stating that the project will only be implemented if Ukraine’s status as a transit country is protected..
US threatens Germany with sanctions over Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline | DW News
Germany, along with other countries through which the new pipeline will pass – Finland, Sweden and Denmark – is making a counter argument, saying that the project will strengthen Europe’s energy security by avoiding possible supply disruptions along the politically unstable route through Ukraine. Washington is convinced that through this project, Russia wants to cause economic damage to Ukraine, depriving it of transit fees.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, their losses will amount to about $ 2.5 billion a year, or about 4 percent of GDP..
The Kremlin argues that Washington wants to close the project, as American energy giants expect to export liquefied shale gas to Europe. The US authorities do not hide their hopes that American companies will benefit from the closure of the project, but insist that this is not the main reason for their objections..
Former NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the project a “geopolitical mistake” for the EU, stressing that it will nullify European sanctions against Russia imposed after the annexation of Crimea.