German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s reaction to Washington’s looming sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is tantamount to a "clear declaration of war" on US President Donald Trump, writes the German tabloid Bild.
"Merkel will not tolerate the United States continuing to undermine the gas pipeline project, which enjoys her government’s support," the article says.
At the same time, the publication voices confidence that nothing could undermine the construction of the pipeline at its current stage, and it will soon be successfully completed.
‘No Option But to Talk’
Earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised US sanctions against the new 9.5 billion euro ($10.6 billion) pipeline that will transport Russian gas to Germany during a question-and-answer session in the Bundestag on 18 December.
According to Merkel, Germany was “opposed to extraterritorial sanctions” such as those imposed by the US Congress on Nord Stream 2, but had no intention of imposing counter-sanctions on Washington.
“I see no other option but to talk [to the US and make it clear that] we do not approve of this practice of extraterritorial sanctions,” she said.
The German Chancellor has repeatedly maintained that Nord Stream 2 serves Germany’s economic interests.
Nord Stream 2 Sanctions
On 17 December the US Congress passed a defence spending bill that included sanctions on companies involved in Nord Stream 2, threatening to punish contractors who are helping to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will provide Germany with natural gas, delivered from Russia via the Baltic Sea.
Pending White House approval, companies working on the Nord Stream 2 would have 30 days to stop their operations, with individuals identified as involved in the project facing the threat of having their US visas revoked and property blocked.
President Donald Trump has signalled a readiness to sign the bill without delay.
Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2019
Washington has repeatedly portrayed the pipeline, originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2019 but pushed to mid-2020 due to delays in Denmark approving the Bornholm route, as a ploy to increase Russia’s alleged grip on the EU energy market.
At the same time, the US has been pushing its own agenda, seeking to drive Europe to buy more of its costlier liquefied natural gas.
Russia has repeatedly rebuffed the claims, emphasising that Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project.
‘Essential for European Energy Security’
The move by the US Congress sparked a vehement response from officials in countries that are involved in the project.
“European energy policy is decided in Europe, not the US,” said Heiko Maas, German foreign minister.
The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce said last week that the pipeline is essential for European energy security and called for retaliatory sanctions on the United States.
The latest US sanctions targeting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will deliver natural gas to Germany, will not stop the project, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
“We assume that [Nord Stream 2] will be completed,” he told journalists when asked whether Washington’s potential sanctions might result in construction being suspended.
European companies involved in the project include German energy firms Wintershall and Uniper, French multinational Engie, British-Dutch oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell, and Austrian energy company OMV.
The consortium building Nord Stream 2 says it has laid more than 2,100 km of the pipeline, with about 300 km still to go.
The work is being carried out by the Swiss-Dutch company Allseas, which would be directly affected by the sanctions.
Nord Stream 2, which runs from the Russian Baltic coast to Germany, will deliver 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to European customers. It is scheduled to begin operating in the middle of next year.