U.S. threat­ens sanc­tions over Rus­sia-Ger­many gas pipe­line

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

FRANK­FURT: The U.S. am­bas­sador to Ger­many has warned of sanc­tions against firms linked to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipe­line from Rus­sia, the Amer­i­can em­bassy in Ber­lin con­firmed Sun­day.

A let­ter en­voy Richard Grenell sent to sev­eral busi­nesses “re­minds that any com­pany op­er­at­ing in the Rus­sian en­ergy ex­port pipe­line sec­tor … is in dan­ger un­der CAATSA of U.S. sanc­tions,” an em­bassy spokesman told AFP.

The Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act adopted in 2017 tar­gets Iran, Rus­sia and North Ko­rea.

The let­ter by Grenell, a close ally of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, “is not meant to be a threat, but a clear mes­sage of U.S. pol­icy,” the spokesman said.

“The only thing that could be con­sid­ered black­mail in this sit­u­a­tion would be the Krem­lin hav­ing lever­age over fu­ture gas sup­plies,” he said.

Con­struc­tion has al­ready be­gun on Nord Stream 2, set to dou­ble the ca­pac­ity of an ex­ist­ing pipe­line across the Baltic Sea.

Com­bined with the planned TurkStream pipe­line across the Black Sea, Nord Stream 2 would do away with the need to trans­port nat­u­ral gas to Europe via Ukraine - rob­bing the coun­try of a fac­tor shield­ing it from Rus­sian ag­gres­sion, Grenell said.

The two coun­tries are in con­flict over the east­ern part of Ukraine and the an­nex­a­tion of the Crimean penin­sula by Rus­sia in 2014.

“Firms sup­port­ing the con­struc­tion of the two pipe­lines are ac­tively un­der­min­ing the se­cu­rity of Ukraine and Europe,” Grenell wrote.

Wash­ing­ton’s fears about the Nord Stream 2 pipe­line are shared by a num­ber of east­ern Euro­pean Union coun­tries in­clud­ing Poland, and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment last month passed a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the con­struc­tion.

But Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, backed by France and Aus­tria, has so far in­sisted that it is a “purely eco­nomic project” that will en­sure cheaper and more re­li­able gas sup­plies.

The vet­eran leader – a key player in Moscow-Kiev peace talks – says Ukrainian in­ter­ests will be pro­tected as some Rus­sian gas will still be trans­ported via the coun­try once Nord Stream 2 is on­line.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas also weighed in on the transat­lantic row last week, say­ing “Euro­pean en­ergy pol­icy should be de­cided in Europe, not in the United States.” –

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