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Envoy Warns Germany May Reject US LNG if Russian Gas Giant Sanctioned - Reports

© REUTERS / Gary Cameron/File PhotoFILE PHOTO: Snow covered transfer lines are seen at the Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Lusby, Maryland March 18, 2014.
FILE PHOTO: Snow covered transfer lines are seen at the Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Lusby, Maryland March 18, 2014. - Sputnik International
Berlin's apparent tough stand comes in the wake of comments by a senior EU diplomat in Washington last week that the new anti-Russian sanctions proposals on Capitol Hill were "US business" that had nothing to do with Europe.

German Ambassador to the United States Emily Haber wrote a letter to US lawmakers asking them to stop threatening German companies with secondary sanctions over their business deals with Russian energy giants Gazprom and Novatek, Bild has reported, citing documents obtained from an unnamed source.

The two page letter, sent to several US senators, was reportedly written in March, and marks German concerns over the prospect of "additional energy sanctions on Russia," stressing that these restrictions could "affect Europe's energy security." 

Commenting on the Nord Stream 2 Gas deal between Gazprom and a group of Western European energy companies, the letter noted that the EU has already reached a "common European position on the issue," with any "additional steps" by the US against the project being "counterproductive."

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The letter goes on to mark the ambassador's concerns over US sanctions threats against a planned LNG terminal in Rostock, which Haber noted could be hit "by DASKA sanctions due to a minority stake being held by the Russian firm Novatek."

The letter warns that sanctions on Novatek could "impair the acceptance of LNG imports in Germany and significantly impede the development of LNG import capacity," with Bild taking the remark to be an obvious veiled threat against Washington, which plans to export considerable quantities of LNG to Europe in the coming years using LNG ports in northern Germany.

An unnamed congressional staff member told Bild that lawmakers were "shocked" by Haber's letter, which the staff member claimed "unambiguously sides with Russia" on the energy issue.

Asked to comment on the leaked letter, Germany's foreign office told Bild that Germany would support 'close coordination' between the US and the EU to ensure that any Russia sanctions "can have their desired effects."

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Haber's letter follows remarks by Caroline Vicini, the deputy chief of the European Union's foreign delegation in Washington. Speaking at a conference in Washington, D.C. last week, Vicini said the new sanctions proposals currently making their way through Congress had put EU officials in a difficult position, making it seem as if they were "standing on the Russian side, when actually we are standing on the US side," but also trying to defend EU interests. Vicini noted that it wasn’t right for the EU to "carry the burden for what is US business, and often internal business," and recalled that EU took "a much bigger hit than the United States" economically in the many rounds of anti-Russian sanctions over the years.

Earlier this year, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell sent letters to a number of German companies, hinting that Washington could impose sanctions on firms that support the Nord Stream 2 gase pipeline project. Berlin described Grenell's actions as a "provocation" at the time. The US has lobbied intensely against Nord Stream 2, offering Europe its own, more expensive LNG supplies instead. EU powers reached an agreement to amend the bloc's gas directive to account for EU-third state pipeline projects like Nord Stream 2 following heated negotiations between France and Germany in February. Berlin has been a key proponent of the Nord Stream 2 project, which would secure the country's status as a gas hub for deliveries further west.

Once completed, Nord Stream 2 will double the existing 55 billion cubic metre per year capacity of existing Nord Stream infrastructure.

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