Russia has slammed US sanctions over the mammoth gas pipeline to Germany as illegal and an example of "unfair competition." The measures, which still need Donald Trump's approval, target firms involved in the project.
The US is preparing sanctions to maintain its "artificial domination of European markets" and push EU members into buying more American gas over the Russian one, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
His comments come after US lawmakers overwhelmingly voted for a package of sanctions that would target companies and managers involved with the construction of Nord Stream 2, a €9.5 billion ($10.6 billion) gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The nearly completed project, spearheaded by Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom, would effectively double German consumption of Russian gas and potentially feed billions of euros to the Russian state. It would also bypass several central European countries, including Ukraine, reducing their negotiating power during gas crises and leaving them without lucrative gas transit fees.
US companies are also frustrated by the project as they attempt to sell their more expensive gas on the European market.
The US measures still need to be signed by President Donald Trump before going into effect. However, Trump is not expected to block them.
On Wednesday, Peskov said that sanctions would not prevent Nord Stream 2 from becoming operational.
"We expect that this project would be completed," he said.
Peskov also slammed the move as a "flagrant violation of international law" and said that US' long-time allies in Western Europe also oppose the measure.
"Moscow does not like such measures, and neither do other European capitals such as Berlin and Paris," he said.
Grumblings from Germany
German politicians have indeed signaled their displeasure with the sanctions, saying that they would additionally burden the relationship between Berlin and Washington.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that Germany's opposition to the sanctions should be handled through dialogue.
"I also see no other option than to hold talks — very decisive talks — to make it clear that we do not approve," Merkel told the German Parliament, the Bundestag. "We are against extraterritorial sanctions."
The Premier of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, Manuela Schwesig, said that Germany and Europe needed a secure energy supply. The Baltic Sea pipeline is set to enter German territory at the coastal city of Greifswald in the northern German state.
"[The Americans] are attempting to bring American gas, obtained by fracking, to the market," she added.
The pipeline is expected to start transporting gas in 2020.
DW cartoonist Sergey Elkin gives his take on the crisis, showing frustrated Putin saying "You too..." to Trump
wmr,dj/rc (dpa, Reuters, Interfax)