19:48 GMT26 January 2021
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    Washington is trying to squeeze Russia out of the European gas market by putting pressure on EU members, a diplomatic source told Sputnik.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — The United States is putting diplomatic pressure on EU members in order to prevent the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project and therefore remove Russia's Gazprom energy giant from EU energy market, a diplomatic source told Sputnik.

    "The United States is seeking to 'bury' this project, because if it starts selling own liquefied gas to EU states, it will face a competitor in Europe represented by Gazprom," the source said.

    On Thursday, European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said that Brussels still hoped to receive a mandate to negotiate the key principles of the Nord Stream 2 project operation with Russia from the EU member states.

    The Nord Stream 2 project presupposes the construction of two gas pipelines totaling a combined annual gas capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. The new pipeline is planned to be laid along the original Nord Stream pipeline route, starting from the Russian coast, then through the Baltic Sea to a hub in Germany. Since the pipeline will not pass through the terrestrial portion of the European Union, it will not be subject to all regulations of the EU internal market under the umbrella of the Third Energy Package.

    The European Commission has taken several steps to make the project comply with EU rules, including by requesting the negotiating mandate, which should be approved by the EU member states.

    At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that a special EU mandate for talks on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project was not necessary, but added that several legal issues remain to be cleared up.

    Last week, the US Senate approved a measure that would expand restrictions imposed on Russia and limit the US president’s ability to lift sanctions. The bill still must pass the House of Representatives before it goes to President Donald Trump's desk. If the bill is approved, the United States will be able to introduce new restrictions against people investing in Russia's export gas pipelines. US senators, in particular, stated that Washington would exert efforts to resist the construction of the Nord Stream 2 project.

    The US Senate bill has already prompted criticism within the European Union. Last week, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern accused the United States of attempting to squeeze out supplies of Russian natural gas from the European market and promote US liquefied gas supplies, something which will undermine European companies. The two officials stressed that the issue of energy supplies to Europe was the European Union's own business and that the United States should not interfere.

    Topic:
    Nord Stream pipeline project (14)

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    Tags:
    gas, LNG, Nord Stream 2, European Union, Russia, US
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