In an interview with Bild magazine, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said that he believes that US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 were adopted in the interests of Europe.
He singled out “15 European countries, the European Commission and the European Parliament” which he claimed had “all expressed their concerns about the [Nord Stream 2] project”.
Grenell described the anti-Nord Stream 2 sanctions as “a very pro-European decision” because Washington has been “hearing from our European partners that the United States should support them in their efforts”.
“Currently there is a lot of talk in Germany about being more for European and we believe that when it comes to Nord Stream 2, we have taken an extremely pro-European position. I've been hearing all day from European diplomats thanking me for taking this action,” he added.
When asked if the sanctions were imposed to “slow down the pipeline project or to prevent it in the long term”, Grenell referred to a “longstanding US policy that goes back to the Obama administration”.
“The goal has always been for diversification of Europe's energy sources and to ensure that not one country or source can build up too much influence on Europe through energy,” he said, in an apparent nod to Russia.
Berlin Rejects US’ Nord Stream 2 Sanctions as ‘Interference in German Internal Affairs’
The interview comes after deputy government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said that Berlin “expressed regret over the fact that US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 […] gas pipeline have taken effect.”
She added that the German government "rejects such extraterritorial sanctions", which “target German and European companies” and amount to nothing but “interference in our domestic affairs”.
The statement echoed that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who opposed the sanctions because they have extraterritorial effect, and added that the restrictions may negatively affect the gas transit negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
Kremlin spoken Dmitry Peskov, for his part, slammed US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as “a perfect example of unfair competition", saying that Washington is imposing more expensive gas on Europe.
He continued on by saying that both "Moscow and Europe dislike US sanctions on Nord Stream 2, as these measures violate international law".
US Slaps Sanctions on Nord Stream 2
After US President Donald Trump signed on Friday the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a military spending package that includes sanctions against these two projects, the country’s Treasury Department stated that the restrictive measures took effect immediately and that Washington was demanding that construction companies stop their work.
The sanctions specifically target companies and individuals involved in providing services on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and have their US visas revoked and financial assets in the US frozen. The bill also provides for a 30-day grace period for them to wind down their operations in the project.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a joint venture between Gazprom and five European companies: France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, the UK-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall. The pipeline is due to be finished in 2020 and will carry up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Russia to Germany and Central Europe, bypassing the existing route through Ukraine and Poland.
While Russia describes Nord Stream 2 as a purely economic project, the US continues efforts to undermine the venture, threatening everyone involved with sanctions and promoting its liquefied natural gas on the European market.