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US warns Nord Stream 2 firms to 'immediately abandon work'

Jon Shelton
March 18, 2021

The US State Department called for companies to cease activity on the controversial pipeline or face sanctions. The US has slammed the project as a Russian plan to "divide Europe and weaken European energy security."

The pipe-laying vessel Fortuna working in the Baltic Sea
The US warned companies laying pipe in the Baltic Sea that they should stop work or face sanctionsImage: Bernd Wuestneck/dpa/picture alliance

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called on companies involved in the construction of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to "immediately abandon work" or potentially face harsh sanctions.  

In a statement, the State Department said it is monitoring and assessing information about companies doing work on the project.

"Any entity involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks US sanctions and should immediately abandon work on the pipeline," the statement reads.

Blinken also said the Biden administration is intent on upholding sanctions legislation passed by Congress in 2019 and expanded with broad bipartisan support in 2020.

The statement gives context to the administration's decision, noting that, "multiple US administrations have made clear, this pipeline is a Russian geopolitical project intended to divide Europe and weaken European energy security." 

Nord Stream 2 another 'bad deal' according to the US

Blinken called the controversial project, which will deliver Russian natural gas directly to Germany via undersea pipelines on the bed of the Baltic Sea, "a bad deal — for Germany, for Ukraine and for our Central and Eastern European allies and partners." 

The US has also actively sought to get European allies to buy US natural gas instead of purchasing it from a much more adversarial Russia.

Nord Stream 2 will double the capacity of existing gas delivery infrastructure and its direct route will bypass traditional transit countries such as Ukraine and Poland, which would potentially leave them without transit revenues.

The project has also sparked fears that Russia will use the pipeline as leverage to expand influence in Europe.

US sanctions laws require the State Department to punish companies involved in the installation, certification or insurance of the project spearheaded by Russia's state-owned Gazprom, along with Western partners.

Some 20 companies — mainly insurers — reportedly bailed out of the project in response to US sanction warnings.

Germany: Conflicts over Nord Stream 2 reignited