MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will be completed in the near future, despite US pressure on those involved in the massive energy project. The top Russian diplomat met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference after the talks, Lavrov stated that all the participants of the Nord Stream 2 project, including Russia and Germany, are determined to finish it, according to RT.
“In my understanding, there is reason to believe this will be done in the near future,” he told reporters, adding that European states should determine their energy policy on their own.
The statement comes as Washington has been increasing pressure on the project, including expanding sanctions to target its investors and insurance companies, among others. Earlier this month, a group of US senators threatened to impose “crushing legal and economic sanctions” on Germany’s Mukran Port, on the Baltic Sea, where the vessels helping to build the final stretch of the pipeline are stationed.
Berlin has repeatedly decried aggressive US policies, saying it rejects Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions. According to Lavrov, the US sees no boundaries when trying to achieve its political or economic goals.
“We clearly see how Washington operates in the international arena, without shying away from any methods, which is proven by the situation around the Nord Stream 2,” the Russian foreign minister noted.
On Tuesday, one of the project’s financial backers, German utility Uniper, announced that, while it hopes that the construction of the pipeline will go as planned, it has to take into account the worst-case scenario, in which the project may collapse due to US sanctions.
“Pressure has further intensified,” the firm’s Chief Executive Andreas Schierenbeck stated, adding, “The worst case would be, of course, if [Nord Stream 2] would never be finished and then, of course, the question is, can we get our money back or not.”
Nord Stream 2 aims to supply Europe with up to 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year, on top of the 55 bcm annually supplied through Nord Stream 1. After the project stalled at the final stages due to US sanctions at the end of 2019, Russia had to work to finish the route on its own. It plans to complete the pipeline by the end of the year or in early 2021.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed “displeasure” to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo about Washington’s threat of sanctions against German Mukran Port over a gas pipeline from Russia. Speaking in Berlin on Monday as transatlantic tensions spike, Maas was asked by a reporter about last week’s letter from three US senators.
Senators pledged “tough sanctions” against the operators of the key German port involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Al-Jazeera reported.
“I mentioned it in a telephone call with (Secretary of State) Mike Pompeo yesterday and expressed my surprise and displeasure,” he said.
As already stated, Nord Stream 2, a 10 billion-euro ($11bln) pipeline nearing completion beneath the Baltic Sea, is set to double Russian natural gas shipments to Germany, the EU’s largest economy. The US imposed sanctions against contractors working on Nord Stream 2 and another Russian gas project, TurkStream (formerly known as South Stream), which goes through the Black Sea.
But while those sanctions focused on technical assistance, the separate Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act lays out harsh measures that can include severing access to the US financial system. Pompeo announced guidelines last month stipulating that German companies could suffer sanctions even for small investments in the project.
Germany had voiced anger over the earlier sanctions law, saying that it interfered in its internal affairs. But Ukraine, Poland and Baltic states fear that Nord Stream 2 will further “embolden” Russian President Vladimir Putin by giving Moscow more control over crucial energy flows.
Germany, despite political differences with Russia, sees Nord Stream 2 as ensuring a more stable and cleaner source of energy as it pivots away from coal and nuclear power. Berlin is a long-standing ally of the US, but President Trump has tense relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, once berating her as “captive” to Russia.
The Sassnitz (Mukra) port is located in Merkel’s electoral district, which German media interpreted as a personal affront to the veteran leader. Meanwhile, Trump recently approved plans to pull 9,500 US troops from Germany, accusing Berlin of treating the US unfairly on trade while not paying enough as a NATO ally for defense.