10:28 GMT07 May 2021
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    On Friday, Moscow called Nord Stream 2 a project of "existential" importance for Berlin and a kind of test case for determining whether Germany and other EU members are capable of defending their own interests.

    The German newspaper Die Welt has reported that with Washington's increasing pressure on Berlin over Nord Stream 2, a so-called Plan B is needed "to put construction of the gas pipeline on hold for the time being".

    Die Welt cited Roderich Kiesewetter, member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as saying that Germany needs "a face-saving solution for all sides" and that "a moratorium could be" an option.

    Nils Schmid of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), for his part, said the project, which is so close to completion, cannot be stopped now, but that "it would be possible to make the operation of Nord Stream 2 subject to certain conditions", according to Die Welt. He did not elaborate on what those conditions could be.

    The remarks followed Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova touting Nord Stream 2 on Friday as "a business project" that is "not connected to politics, but to the internal development of Germany".

    Construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline in Germany
    © Sputnik / Ekaterina Solovyova
    Construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline in Germany

    Commenting on Washington's permanent pressure on Berlin to toe the US line, Zakharova said that Germany should stick to an independent policy.

    "If tomorrow the president of the United States of America – be it Biden, Obama, Trump, or anyone else – orders Germany to stop breathing, will Germany listen? Or will it understand that if it is not going to breathe it will not exist?", she said.

    German officials have consistently defended Nord Stream 2 as a purely economic project in spite of US pressure, and on Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel again stepped out in defence of the pipeline, stressing that she was perfectly aware that the project-related conflict was part of a broader "political struggle".

    Germany Frustrated Over US Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2

    This came after the German media reported in late March that Berlin was unhappy with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's announcement that Washington still plans to slap more sanctions on Nord Stream 2, adding that all businesses involved in its construction might suffer.

    The White House has already slapped two rounds of sanctions on the project, including the so-called Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act, which prompted AllSeas, a Switzerland-based construction contractor, to withdraw from the project, citing the threat of "crushing and potentially fatal" sanctions against it.

    This led to a freeze in the pipeline's construction with less than 150 km of the 1,230-km project left to complete as Russia sent ships to the Baltic Sea to finish the work, which resumed after a short break in February.

    Germany has repeatedly rejected the prospect of new extraterritorial sanctions against Nord Stream 2, calling US efforts in this direction an "encroachment on European sovereignty", and warning that it is closely coordinating the issue with its EU partners. Moscow, in turn, views the US sanctions against the project as an example of unfair competition meant to boost American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe.

    The project is being financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, as well as France's Engie, Austria's OMV, and the UK-Dutch concern Royal Dutch Shell.

    Once completed, the pipeline will be able to pump an additional 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network.


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    gas pipeline, sanctions, project, Nord Stream 2, Russia, US, Germany
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