The US State Department has warned of potential retaliation against a number of European companies involved in the construction of a controversial new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
According to Hamburg-based news agency DPA, companies involved in the construction of the infrastructure under the Baltic Sea have been given a final warning from Washington. An American government official is quoted in reports as saying “this pipeline will not take place… The US does not want to impose sanctions on European companies. We are making these calls to caution them and give them time to get out.”
The Nord Stream 2 project is a collaboration between Russian energy firm Gazprom and its Western partners, Royal Dutch Shell, E.ON, Engie and OMV. The US has been implacably opposed to the pipeline, since it was formally announced in 2015, arguing that it represents a Russian power grab on the European energy market, and “a grave threat” to the continent’s “energy security, and American national security.” However, there is speculation that America’s motivation is to force an increase in the exports of its own shale gas to Europe.
Washington has since found itself at odds with Germany, where the pipeline, which would be one of the world’s longest, is set to terminate. In August, Berlin’s Foreign Minister rebuked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the threat of “crushing legal sanctions” proposed by American Senators on the German port of Murkan, where Russian vessels are supporting construction. Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany have all granted permission for the pipeline in their waters.
More than 120 companies are already facing sanctions for their involvement in the project and businesses are banned from providing goods and services to, or investing in, any aspect of the initiative. However, construction has continued unabated and President Vladimir Putin announced in January that the link between Russia’s oilfields and Western consumers will be completed “by the end of this year or in the first quarter of next year.”
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