Austria strongly disagrees with the US position on the Nord Stream 2 project and condemns Washington's actions directed at halting the construction of the pipeline, which is designed to supply around 55 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia to Europe, the country's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg stated at a press conference following a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"We have certain disagreements and different approaches to certain issues – one of them is Nord Stream 2. We deeply regret the US decision to impose extraterritorial sanctions [against entities working on the Nord Stream pipeline]. We would prefer to resolve this issue via a dialogue", Schallenberg said.
Pompeo confirmed that the two countries have disagreements, with Nord Stream 2 being one of the biggest among them. He claims that the issue lies with Washington and Vienna's differing opinions on whether the gas pipeline can be considered a threat to regional security.
US Crackdown on Nord Stream 2
Washington has long been trying to persuade the EU to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project under various pretexts, ranging from claims that it will leave Ukraine without money from Russian gas transit, to accusations that the pipeline is intended to make Europe dependent on Russian gas. The EU has denied these allegations, insisting that the project is purely an economic one and that Russia's President Vladimir Putin has assured that Moscow won't be seeking to cut the transit through Ukraine for good.
Despite this, US President Donald Trump has expressed displeasure at the fact that European countries, especially Germany, are refusing to meet the voluntary target of spending 2% of GDP on defence and yet are ready to pay for Russian gas. He suggested that they switch to liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US or Israel, despite it being more expensive. Most European countries have, however, been reluctant to agree to this.
In the wake of the EU's reluctance to oppose Nord Stream 2's construction, the US has started threatening the bloc's member states and their companies with sanctions for facilitating the construction of the project. This forced the contractor AllSeas to withdraw its pipe-laying ship and resulted in Nord Stream AG's owner, Gazprom, sending one of its own. The operation of the new ship, however, is now also in question, as American lawmakers are reviewing a law that would also slap sanctions on companies providing insurance or any technical services to vessels working on the pipeline project. These actions have been strongly condemned by numerous European countries participating in the Nord Stream 2 project.