19:46 GMT17 June 2021
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    BERLIN (Sputnik) - Rainer Seele, the CEO of the Austrian OMV energy company, slammed on Tuesday letters that US Ambassador to Berlin Richard Grenell reportedly sent to German companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project as an "unacceptable threat."

    "The letter in an absolutely unacceptable threat to German companies. This is an expression of the changed US foreign policy. Washington relies on confrontation, not cooperation with its allies. I deeply regret this," Seele said as quoted by German newspaper Handelsblatt.

    Seele expressed the belief that Europe did not need US "tutorship" on energy policy.

    "We'll take care of our own energy policy so that security of deliveries and competitiveness are regulated in such a manner that we find satisfactory," Seele said.

    He specified that he did not believe that the possible sanctions against the Nord Stream participating companies would have significant influence since unilateral restrictions always had "limited effect."

    READ MORE: Russian and US Envoys Clash Over Nord Stream 2 in Dutch Media

    The statement was made after on Sunday, media reports emerged that Grenell had sent letters to a number of German companies, hinting that Washington could introduce sanctions for supporting Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction project, under which Russian natural gas would be brought to Europe via the Baltic Sea and a hub in Germany.

    Nord Stream 2 to Most Likely Be Launched in Late 2019

    Meanwhile, OMV Executive Board member Manfred Leitner said that most probably Nord Stream 2 project would be launched in late 2019.

    "I say nine [out of ten]," Leitner told Der Standard, answering a question on how he would assess on a scale from one to ten the probability that Nord Stream 2 would be launched in 2019.

    Speaking about Washington's reaction and its desire to close the project, Leitner noted that economic interests, as well as interests of the authorities, come first in this case.

    "I am grateful that the Austrian government took a clear position on this issue, and the position of the German government is still clear. Ultimately, clients will decide whether the project is successful," he added.

    Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European companies, including the OMV. It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas annually to the European Union via the Baltic Sea and Germany. The pipeline project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe and opposed by others.

    READ MORE: US Should Respect Companies' Right to Partake in Nord Stream 2 Project — Beijing

    The United States has been strongly opposing Nord Stream 2 project. In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced the belief that US leader Donald Trump was seeking to force Russia out of the European energy market so that the United States could sell more liquefied natural gas to Europe.

    READ MORE: Trump Plays Russian Card Too

    Nord Stream 2, OMV, Richard Grenell, US, Austria
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