Germany Warns US Congress Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Will 'Damage Transatlantic Unity', Docs Show
16:11 GMT 28.11.2021 (Updated: 21:18 GMT 19.10.2022)
The German Embassy in Washington reportedly handed American congressmen a document saying that the pipeline poses no threat to Ukraine or the EU and arguing that new restrictions could undermine US-German ties and weaken the credibility of the US government.
The German government has called upon US congressmen not to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, insisting that doing so will "damage transatlantic unity", Axios has reported
, citing newly obtained documents.
"US Sanctions targeting Nord Stream 2 would undermine the commitment given to Germany in the Joint Statement, weaken the credibility of the US government, and endanger the achievements of the Joint Statement, including the provisions supporting Ukraine", the German "non-paper" dated 19 November and marked as "classified" said.
The document refers to the Joint Statement of the United States and Germany on Support for Ukraine and European Energy Security which was agreed upon by President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 21 July. The deal came in the aftermath of Biden's decision to waive sanctions on the company in charge of Nord Stream 2. Under the Joint Statement, Germany vowed to take action, including certain sanctions, if Russia "used energy as a weapon" against Ukraine and Europe.
The 19 November "non-paper" argues that Germany is continuing to act in the spirit of the Joint Statement, listing "public pressure, political measures, and economic measures" to punish Russia for any potential wrongdoing. This includes "assessing" the suspension of future political meetings and reviewing "possible" limitations and restrictions on future Russian fossil fuel projects – not including the Nord Stream 2 endeavour.
28 November 2021, 14:47 GMT
Nord Stream 2 has not softened Germany's foreign policy on Russia and Berlin "has sent strong signals to Moscow when it found Russia breaching international law even at the cost of accepting a strain on German-Russian relations", argues the paper.
At the same time, the authors of the document insist that Nord Stream 2 is by no means a threat to Ukraine "as long as a reasonable gas transit is ensured". Per the "non-paper", the Joint Statement allows Germany and the US to ensure that Moscow will "honour the current gas transit agreement with Ukraine and extend it beyond 2024".
Similarly, "the granting of the certification [to Nord Stream 2] will not put at risk the security of gas supply in Germany and the EU", the document highlights, citing the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and independent regulator's assessment.
Addressing the latest spike in gas prices in Europe, the document additionally asserts that it is "a global phenomenon and cannot be exclusively attributed to Russia".
"Russia is currently fulfilling all delivery obligations, including the gas transit agreement with Ukraine, but it could do more: Recent announcements by Putin to increase deliveries to European gas storages are a step in the right direction", the "non-paper" underscores.
On top of this, US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 "would only be a victory for [Vladimir] Putin" as it would sow discord between NATO allies, the document claims.
22 November 2021, 21:20 GMT
US Congress & Ukraine Advocating New Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2
US lawmakers are considering imposing further sanctions on the Russo-German pipeline: earlier this month, a group of Republican senators proposed an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) that would force US President Joe Biden to sanction Nord Stream 2 AG, the firm in charge of the pipeline.
The State Department on 22 November informed the US Congress that it imposed new sanctions on a vessel and a "Russian-linked entity" called Transadria Ltd. related to the Nord Stream 2 project under the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act of 2019.
For its part, Kiev is actively advocating halting the Nord Stream 2 project which it sees as a threat to the lucrative gas transit running through Ukraine's territory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky supported the congressional sanctions against the new pipeline despite Moscow having confirmed that transit will continue to operate after the implementation of Nord Stream 2.
Speaking to Axios, an adviser to President Zelensky said that Ukraine is "shocked, saddened, and confused" by Germany's ongoing efforts to save Nord Stream 2, which was dubbed by the Ukrainian official as Russia's "most dangerous geopolitical project".
Nevertheless, top Biden officials like energy envoy Amos Hochstein have been spotted "lobbying Democrats in Congress not to support sanctions
in order to avoid straining relations with Germany", according to the media outlet.
25 November 2021, 00:29 GMT
A senior State Department official asserted to Axios that the Biden administration is not neglecting Ukraine's concerns but is also not inclined to ruin relations with Berlin:
"Our approach is about far more than alliance maintenance; it's about doing what will be most effective to protect and preserve Ukraine's energy security", the official said. "Preserving relations with Berlin and standing up for Ukraine's interests isn't an either/or proposition. We're doing both in the most effective way possible".
Nord Stream 2 will double the capacity of the initial Nord Stream gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany, thus increasing its overall annual capacity to 110 billion cubic metres (3.9 trillion cubic feet). The certification of the project has been suspended by the German energy regulator, Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), until Nord Stream 2 AG transfers the assets and management of the part of the pipeline on German territory and in its territorial waters to a new German entity that is 100% owned by Nord Stream 2 AG.