The US has stepped up the pressure on EU countries to halt the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the German newspaper Handelsblatt reports, citing an anonymous White House official.
Despite the cold winter months, work on the German-Russian gas pipeline has continued. One third of the 1,230 km gas pipeline has already been laid on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and the construction is scheduled to finish by the end of the year.
However, this is not to the US’s liking, Handelsblatt observes. “The time has come to act,” the American diplomatic source told the newspaper, emphasizing that Washington wants the EU to “take measures before Russia exerts a huge influence on [the US’s] European partners”. “We want the project stopped,” the source added.
The US government has once again warned the European countries that if the Nord Stream 2 project is realized, they could end up dependent on Russian gas. “As soon as the gas pipeline is completed, Europe will lose significant capabilities to maneuver in the direction of Russia,” the unnamed US official observed.
The source also supported the recently made statements on this topic by US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. The diplomat sent letters to a number of German companies involved in the project warning them of the “significant risk of sanctions” if they continue to support Nord Stream 2. The official noted, however, that these messages were not meant to be discussed in public.
Grenell’s letters to German companies were first published by the German newspaper Bild at the start of January, and elicited a widespread public response. The American diplomat criticized Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel’s successor as leader of the Christian Democratic Union. The German politician responded that Grenell’s behavior was “undiplomatic”.
German Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier called for non-interference in the Nord Stream 2 project. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US ambassador’s pressure on the German companies is part of the “program to contain Russia”.
The Nord Stream 2 project involves the construction of two gas pipelines with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year from the Russian coast, through the Baltic Sea, to Germany. The US is opposed to the project, claiming that its realization will give Russia “yet another instrument for political pressure”.
In summer last year, US President Donald Trump said that the stream of “pipeline dollars” to Russia is unacceptable. The Kremlin responded by claiming that such statements by the US are an attempt to force Europeans to buy more expensive American gas.