The Akademik Cherskiy, the Russian pipelaying ship deemed capable of completing the construction of Nord Stream 2, has arrived in the city of Kaliningrad for preoperational testing, according to the global maritime tracking website MarineTraffic.
It comes as Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the project, confirmed that the vessel would join Nord Stream 2-related pipelaying work in Danish waters after preoperational tests.
The operator indicated that it had already sent out the necessary notification to the Danish Maritime Administration, and promised that “all work will be carried out in accordance with the permits received.”
The Akademik Cherskiy first grabbed global headlines in December 2020 as the ship was found to be one of the vessels that could complete Nord Stream 2 after Swiss-based contractor AllSeas dropped out amid threats of US sanctions. In the months that followed, the pipelayer changed direction and its final destination several times, zig-zagging its way into the Baltic.
Republicans Pressing Biden to Slap More Sanctions on Nord Stream 2
A group of US House Foreign Affairs Committee members has, meanwhile, urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to impose new sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project.
In a letter to Blinken on Monday, the Republican lawmakers voiced serious concern that the Biden administration's "strong statements in opposition to the pipeline are not being matched by equally strong actions".
The letter was sent a few days after a 40-strong group of Republican senators called on President Joe Biden to slap additional sanctions on Nord Stream 2, claiming that the project violates US laws and warning that time was running out to stop the pipeline's construction.
"The failure of the administration to identify and impose new sanctions signals its willingness to allow President Putin to gain a stranglehold over Europe's gas supplies and increase [Russia's] geopolitical leverage," the senators argued.
The United States has already slapped two rounds of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 with the so-called Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act rolled into the National Defence Authorisation Act of 2019, and more restrictions passed on 1 January 2021.
Nord Stream 2 Construction
Apart from the Russian energy giant Gazprom, five European companies are involved in the pipeline's construction, including France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, the UK-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, and Uniper and Wintershall, both from Germany.
The US - and some of its allies in Europe - have repeatedly criticised the project, claiming it will increase European dependence on Russian gas. Moscow denies the allegations, saying that Nord Stream 2 is purely economic and urging the US not to politicise it.