00:38 GMT10 April 2020
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    Although Washington hit the Russian-European energy project with punitive measures, designed to block its construction, and the pipe-laying contractor, Swiss-based Allseas Group S.A., pulled out of the project, Moscow stated that the line under the Baltic Sea will nonetheless be operational in 2021 at the latest.

    The US is preparing another strike against the Russian-European pipeline project Nord Stream 2, the German Business outlet Handelsblatt reports, citing its sources in the diplomatic circles in Washington. According to the outlet, if Russia attempts to complete the rest of the pipeline under the Baltic Sea after the Swiss contractor Allseas Group S.A. suspended its work, the House of Representatives and the Senate are ready to approve another sanctions bill.

    It could reportedly target the European investors involved in the project, or the potential buyers of the gas, delivered via Nord Stream 2 when it is completed. The decision might be made as early as February or March, the outlet reports.
    Handelsblatt also cites a representative of the German energy company Uniper, which is involved in Nord Stream 2 financially, who voiced alarm about such move and noted that they are aware that the Americans are determined to stop the venture.

    However, he refused to speculate about possible further actions by the US but noted that the company "is following the development very closely”.

    German Government’s Holds out Hope for Diplomacy

    While possible sanctions against the $10 billion pipeline threaten to turn it into “an investment ruin”, as the outlet puts it, the German government is not giving up, believing that the line can be completed in a “reasonable time frame” with only 150 kilometres of pipes left to build.

    Although Russia plans to complete the construction on its own, technical support from Germany can hardly be expected, the report points out, as Berlin is concerned that this will irritate the US.

    "We are campaigning for a suspension of US sanctions so that the completion of Nord Stream 2 is not delayed further," an unnamed top diplomat told the outlet.

    German Business Concerned

    At the same time, fears in Germany grow that without Russian gas, the country will fail to meet its climate goals.

    "Without Russian natural gas, ambitious climate protection goals cannot be achieved in Germany in short and medium terms if we want to maintain affordable electricity prices and thus an energy-intensive industry," the German Eastern Business Association (OAOEV) chief Oliver Hermes insisted.

    He called on the EU to defend itself: "If we don't find an effective answer to such extraterritorial sanctions, the European economy will become a game ball for Americans and Chinese."

    Shortly before 2019 ended, US President Donald Trump signed the National Defence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which envisaged 2019 sanctions against Nord Stream 2 gas while the US Department of the State gave contractors a loophole to elude these measure if they exit the project by 20 January. In response, Swiss-based Allseas Group S.A. announced that it would suspend its pipe-laying work.

    However, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow could complete the venture on its own and that the gas pipeline will be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2021, at the latest.

     

    Related:

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    Russia Capable of Completing Nord Stream 2 Unaided — Gazprom CEO
    US Sanctions Could Stop Nord Stream 2 for Years, Ex-US Ambassador to Ukraine Claims
    Tags:
    sanctions, Nord Stream 2, Russia, Germany, US
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