US warns of sanc­tions risk to Ger­many-Rus­sia gas pipe­line

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

A PIPE­LINE project be­tween Rus­sia and Ger­many risks trig­ger­ing U.S. sanc­tions be­cause of se­cu­rity con­cerns, a se­nior Amer­i­can diplo­mat said yes­ter­day.

U.S. Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary San­dra Oud­kirk, an en­ergy pol­icy ex­pert in the State Depart­ment, said the United States op­poses the Nord Stream 2 gas pipe­line be­cause it could in­crease Rus­sia’s “ma­lign in­flu­ence” in Europe.

“We would be de­lighted if the project did not take place,” she told re­porters in Ber­lin. Her com­ments came a day be­fore Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel is due to fly to the Rus­sian re­sort of Sochi for a meet­ing with Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, at which the pipe­line is­sue is ex­pected to be a key topic of dis­cus­sion.

Oud­kirk said the new pipe­line would di­vert gas flows away from Ukraine, which de­pends heav­ily on tran­sit fees, and could be­come a path­way for Rus­sia to in­stall sur­veil­lance equip­ment in the Baltic Sea, a sen­si­tive mil­i­tary re­gion.

“We are ex­ert­ing as much per­sua­sive power as we pos­si­bly can” to stop the project, she said, but noted that Congress has given the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­plicit author­ity to im­pose sanc­tions in con­nec­tion with Rus­sian pipe­line projects if nec­es­sary. “Any pipe­line project — and there are many mul­ti­ple pipe­line projects in the world that are po­ten­tially cov­ered by this sanc­tions author­ity — is in an el­e­vated po­si­tion of sanc­tions risk,” she said.

The $11 bil­lion Nord Stream 2 project would dou­ble the amount of nat­u­ral gas Rus­sia can fun­nel to the heart of Europe from newly tapped re­serves in Siberia.

While Merkel has taken a hard line on what it con­sid­ers hos­tile Rus­sian ac­tions in re­cent years — from the con­flicts in Ukraine and Syria to the chem­i­cal at­tack on a for­mer Rus­sian spy in Bri­tain — Ger­many badly needs to se­cure its gas sup­ply and Ber­lin has cal­cu­lated that Nord Stream 2 of­fers the best deal.

Jens Mueller, a spokesman for Nord Stream 2, dis­missed con­cerns from the U.S. and sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries, say­ing the new pipe­line would merely be one of many sources of nat­u­ral gas for Europe.

“This pipe­line can’t be used to black­mail or neg­a­tively af­fect any coun­try,” he said.

Merkel sent her econ­omy min­is­ter, Peter Alt­maier, on a fran­tic diplo­matic trip to Moscow and Kiev this week in an ef­fort to se­cure a deal that would keep some gas flow­ing through Ukraine, which cur­rently earns up to 2 bil­lion eu­ros a year from tran­sit fees.

Alt­maier has said he is op­ti­mistic that a “sub­stan­tial” amount of gas will flow through Ukraine in the fu­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Turkey

© PressReader. All rights reserved.