Germany Defies Threat of US Sanctions Over Controversial Pipeline

By Justin Huggler – Aug 12, 2020

The German government has dismissed renewed threats of US sanctions and vowed to complete a controversial gas pipeline with Russia.

“No country has the right to dictate energy policy to the European Union. And it will not work,” Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister said. “Sanctions are definitely not the right way to go between partners.”

“We are incensed at these blackmail threats from the US,” Manuela Schwesig, the regional prime minister of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, said in the most outspoken response yet by a senior German official. “This is not how friendly countries treat each other.”

The US is attempting to block the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will allow Russian gas to be pumped directly to Germany, and has threatened to impose sanctions on any business that takes part in the project.

RELATED CONTENT: 80 Years Ago: Fall of France, the Wehrmacht’s Advance Through the Ardennes Forest

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 17, 2020 Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled Police Use of Force and Community Relations, in Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. – China on August 10, 2020 sanctioned 11 Americans, including senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, in retaliation for similar US moves against Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong. “China has decided to impose sanctions on some people that behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, with Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth and National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman also on the list. (Photo by Tom Williams / POOL / AFP) (Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) – TOM WILLIAMS/AFP

Ms Schwesig reacted furiously after a group of US senators led by Ted Cruz, the former presidential candidate, sent a threatening letter to a company that operates a major port in her region.

“If you continued to provide goods, services, and support for the Nord Stream 2 project, you will endanger the future financial survival of your company,” the senators warned the Sassnitz port company on the island of Rügen.

“This won’t change our attitude. We are determined to see the pipeline completed as soon as possible,” a defiant Ms Schwesig responded.

The controversial pipeline has been nine years in the making, and is nearing completion despite US attempts to block it.

Germany says Nord Stream 2 is vital to ensure its future energy security. The US argues it will leave western Europe too dependent on Russia for its energy needs, and weaken Ukraine by bypassing it.

RELATED CONTENT: India and China: What’s Behind the Recent Border Conflict?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10729924d) Prime Minister of the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig, puts on a sanitary mask as she arrives at the Lankow elementary school enrolment ceremony in Schwerin, Germany, 01 August 2020. Thousands of children of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania celebrated their first day in school with classes resuming on 03 August. This federal state is the first in Germany to officially open the new school year complying with health protocols imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Children have to wear mask in the common areas of the school buildings. First day in school for pupils of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schwerin, Germany – 01 Aug 2020 – FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The project was delayed last year after a Swiss company pulled out of laying the final undersea sections of pipeline following similar threats from Mr Cruz and other senators. Since then Russian ships have resumed work on laying the final sections.

The pipeline will be wholly owned and operated by Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy company.

But many in Germany believe the real motivation for the US’ attempts to block the project is a desire to corner the market for its own liquefied natural gas exports, and the German press has focused on Senator Cruz’s links with the US oil industry.

The European Commission has backed Germany over the stand-off. “The extraterritorial application of sanctions violates international law,” a spokesman told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper.

 

Feature image: Pioneering Spirit starts the pipe laying operation for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Gulf of Helsinki, Finland, December 23, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo – Axel Schmidt/REUTERS

(Yahoo News)