The Left Party group in the German parliament (Bundestag) has called on the government to take countermeasures against planned US sanctions aimed at Nord Stream-2, including duties on liquefied natural gas (LNG).
"The government should immediately respond with all available diplomatic means, as well as targeted measures to the threat of US sanctions against Nord Stream 2. It should also impose import duties on liquefied natural gas from the United States," a press release quotes MP Klaus Ernst as saying.
Earlier on Thursday the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce on Thursday called for retaliatory sanctions after US lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill set to punish contractors working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
"Europe should respond to sanctions that damage Europe with counter-sanctions," Matthias Schepp, head of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), said in a statement.
The AHK said the pipeline was important for the energy security of Europe as a whole and called for retaliatory sanctions against the United States if the bill passes.
Schepp said the sanctions would end up affecting European companies more than Russia.
Chief Executive Officer of oil and gas group OMV, Rainer Seele, added:
"The sanctions against Nord Stream 2 are a blow to Europe and its close alliance partner Germany. It is time for Berlin and Brussels to adopt a clear political position and to respond with targeted countermeasures,” said Seele, emphasising that Europe's energy independence was at stake.
Looming US Sanctions
The statements come amid looming US sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project, that were recently added to US 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act, which is up for approval before Christmas.
On Wednesday, 11 December, a US Senate committee passed a law that provides for sanctions against companies participating in the construction of the 1,200-kilometre pipeline from Russia to Germany.
President Donald Trump still has to sign off on the bill, which both chambers of Congress have previously agreed to.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is expected to bring an annual 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to Germany and Central Europe, bypassing the traditional route through Ukraine and Poland.
Ukraine, which stands to lose billions of dollars in transit fees, has described the project as a threat to European energy security.
Those opposing the project fear the pipeline will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy supplies, as the US seeks to promote its own LNG on the European market.
Russia has repeatedly rebuffed the claims, saying that Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project and accusing the US of trying to use tools of “unfair competition under various political pretexts”.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said United States sanctions will not stop the completion of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline project.
Speaking at a press conference after meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, Lavrov stressed:
"Congress is today literally overwhelmed with a desire to do everything to destroy our relationship. The work started by the Obama administration continues. But we are used to these kinds of attacks; we know how to respond to them. I assure you that neither Nord Stream-2 nor Turkish Stream are going to be stopped by them, that is not going to happen."
The €9.5 billion ($10.6 billion) Nord Stream 2 pipeline will run under the Baltic Sea and is set to double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany.
Half of the project is financed by Russian gas giant Gazprom, with the rest covered by its European partners: Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Anglo-Dutch Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.
Russia had hoped to unveil the pipeline in late 2019 but the launch was delayed due to difficulties in obtaining the permits from Denmark.
However, that hurdle was finally overcome in October, after Copenhagen allowed Gazprom to build a section of the pipeline on the Danish continental shelf in the Baltic Sea.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told reporters last month that he expected the pipeline to become operational in mid-2020.