US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made it clear that discrepancies between Germany and the US over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project will not damage bilateral relations.
In an interview with Euronews on Thursday, Blinken touted Germany as one of America's "closest allies and partners anywhere in the world", saying that both sides are "working together every single day on so many issues that have a profound impact on the lives of our citizens and working as the closest of partners".
"And the fact that we have a disagreement over Nord Stream 2 – and it's a real one – is not affecting and will not affect the overall partnership and relationship", the secretary of state emphasised.
He also recalled that US President Joe Biden perceives the project as "a bad idea and a bad deal for Europe, for us, for the Alliance".
"[…] So I thought it was just very important for me to be able to say that directly and clearly to my friend Heiko Mass so that there's no ambiguity. And the fact is we have laws in the United States that require us to sanction companies that are materially helping to build the pipeline, so I just wanted to make sure that our partners understood our position on this and what we would need to do going forward, and so that's what we did", Blinken added, referring to his recent talks with the German foreign minister.
The secretary of state's Euronews interview comes after the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported about Berlin's frustration over Blinken's announcement that Washington still plans to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and that all businesses involved in its construction might suffer.
US Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2
The White House has already slapped two rounds of sanctions on Nord Stream 2, including the so-called Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act, which prompted AllSeas, a Switzerland-based construction contractor, to withdraw from the project, citing the threat of "crushing and potentially fatal" sanctions against it.
This led to a freeze in the pipeline's construction with less than 150 km of the 1,230-km project left to complete as Russia sent ships to the Baltic Sea to finish the work, which resumed after a short break in February.
Germany has repeatedly rejected the prospect of new extraterritorial sanctions against Nord Stream 2, calling US efforts in this direction an "encroachment on European sovereignty", and warning that it is closely coordinating the issue with its EU partners.
Moscow, in turn, views the US sanctions against the project as an example of unfair competition meant to boost American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe. Russia has repeatedly warned against politicising what it touts as a purely economic project.
Once completed, the pipeline will be able to pump an additional 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network.
As far as German-US relations are concerned, the two sides remain at odds over an array of issues, including Nord Stream 2 and meeting NATO's defence spending goals of 2% of the country's gross domestic product.
In a separate development in February, the Biden administration reversed the Trump team's previous order to withdraw nearly 10,000 US servicemen from Germany, which was another bone of contention between the two countries.