25 Dec 2020
The United States is urging European allies and private companies to halt work that could help build the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and is preparing wider sanctions on the Russian project in coming weeks, senior Trump administration officials said on Wednesday.
The outgoing Trump administration is readying a fresh round of congressionally mandated sanctions “in the very near future” that it believes could deal a fatal blow to the Russia-to-Germany project led by state gas company Gazprom, three officials said.
“We’ve been getting body blow on body blow to this, and now we’re in the process of driving a stake through the project heart,” said one of the officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
Russia this month resumed building the $11.6 billion (9.5 billion euro) pipeline, which is 90% complete, after a one-year pause prompted by existing U.S. sanctions.
New work has been centered on a 2.6 kilometer (1.6 mile) stretch in shallow waters of Germany’s Exclusive Economic Zone but not yet in the deep-water sections off Denmark that comprise most of the unfinished 100-km stretch.
Washington says the project, which will increase European reliance on Russian gas, will compromise European energy security. Russia says the sanctions amount to “unfair competition” aimed at helping U.S. liquefied natural gas producers, and insists it will finish the pipeline.
The feud may not die down once President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, foreign diplomats say.
The U.S. pressure campaign on Nord Stream 2 is backed by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who fear it will bypass Ukraine, robbing it of lucrative transit fees. Biden described the pipeline as a “bad deal” for Europe in 2016, and has criticized Moscow for its alleged role in a massive cyber attack on U.S. government agencies that was discovered last week.
By Andrea Shalal, Reuters, 23 December 2020
Read more at Reuters
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