US Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced that Washington will go after companies involved in the Russian-European pipeline project Nord Stream 2 with restrictions in the "not too distant future".
"The United States Senate is going to pass a bill, the House is going to approve it, and it's going to go to the President and he's going to sign it, that is going to put sanctions on Nord Stream 2", he said during a visit to Ukraine, one of the most persistent critics of the joint venture, which is set to build a route for gas deliveries beneath the Baltic Sea.
Perry, who attended the inauguration of recently elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, claimed that “the opposition to Nord Stream 2 is still very much alive and well in the US".
His pledge prompted criticism from Moscow, which lambasted such a move as an act of unfair competition and predicted opposition among some European countries.
"This is unacceptable not only for us but also for many European Union countries", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
The rhetoric of US officials against the Nord Stream 2 venture has already resulted in a war of words with German politicians. Some lawmakers earlier stated that US sanctions against Russian and German companies are unacceptable. Critics took personal aim at American Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who previously wrote a letter to a group of corporations involved in the project, threatening them with sanctions if they continue participating in the project, citing a 2017 US law, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Opponents accused the US envoy of colonial behaviour.
The row over the project escalated recently after a group of bipartisan US lawmakers on 15 May introduced a measure to impose sanctions against companies involved in the building of the pipeline, including entities providing insurance or other financial services.
The US has opposed the construction of the pipeline, claiming that the project will make Europe dependent on Russian gas, thereby undermining the EU’s democratic principles. According to Russian authorities, Washington's attitude toward the Nord Stream 2 project could be explained by the desire to promote the US’ economic and energy interests in Europe, going on to reject the idea that the project could be political in nature.
Nord Stream 2, an $11 billion energy infrastructure project slated to be finalised late next year, is a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European energy companies – Austria’s OMV, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, France's Engie, and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.