US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has again warned German companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that they could face restrictive measures if they remain committed to the Russian-European project.
“From the American point of view, this gas pipeline not only transports gas, but also has a high sanction risk”, Grenell said in an interview with Germany's Focus magazine.
The remarks come after Grenell reportedly sent warning letters to German companies in mid-January over their participation in the Nord Stream 2 project.
He requested they consider the "danger" it poses to European energy security and “the reputational costs and sanctions risk”.
At the time, both conservative and left-wing German politicians unanimously lambasted Grenell’s remarks, with the Russian Foreign Ministry berating him for trying to scare off German firms working on Nord Stream 2.
Meanwhile, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has underscored her support for the project, telling the DPA news agency on Thursday that no matter what, “we stand by this project”.
Her remarks came a few days after Manuela Schwesig, minister-president of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, slammed a recent statement by European People's Party leader Manfred Weber, a German-born candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, that he would do his best to block the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if he takes office.
Earlier, the European commissioner for budget and human resources, Gunther Oettinger, said in an interview with Germany's Funke media group that Nord Stream 2's construction is already “unstoppable” at the current stage, as it's almost already complete.
Germany has been facing pressure from the US and some EU member states over its support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; Washington claims that it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.
Responding to US President Donald Trump’s calls toward Berlin to halt its cooperation with Moscow on the $11-billion venture, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Trump is looking to force Russia out of the European energy market so the US can sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.
The project is due to be wrapped up before the end of 2019 and envisages the construction a gas pipeline that will run from Russia, through the Baltic Sea, and to a hub in Germany, bypassing Ukraine.