US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference at the end of a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting on March 24, 2021 at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Olivier Hoslet | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken warned Germany on Wednesday that companies building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could face sanctions as Washington tries to pressure Berlin to pull its support for the controversial, Russian-backed energy project.
During a press conference at NATO headquarters, Blinken told Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that President Joe Biden rejects the project, which bypasses the US and EU ally, directs gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
The secretary said he wanted to ensure during his interview with Maas that the US position in the pipeline was “free of ambiguity”.
“The pipeline divides Europe, exposes Ukraine and Central Europe to Russian manipulation and coercion and violates the energy security targets set by Europe,” said Blinken.
“President Biden has long been very clear in his view that Nord Stream 2 is a bad idea, and I directly corroborated that view [German] Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and I have also made it clear that companies involved in the construction of pipelines risk US sanctions, “added Blinken.
Continue reading: The Nord Stream 2 Dilemma: Why a Transatlantic Dispute is likely to keep getting worse
The US is concerned that the pipeline project will undermine Ukraine’s security and economy, which relies on the transportation of gas, while Western Europe becomes more dependent on Russian energy.
Berlin has resisted pressure from Washington to seek its support for the project.
In this aerial photo, the Castoro 10 pipe-laying ship is laying a concrete-coated pipe for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the seabed of the Baltic Sea on August 16, 2018 near Lubmin near Lubmin.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Last week, Blinken urged companies participating in Nord Stream 2 to end the project or risk sanctions.
“The department reiterates its warning that any company involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks US sanctions and should stop working on the pipeline immediately,” said the country’s top diplomat.
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The Trump administration imposed sanctions on a Russian pipelay ship, but it was unclear how harsh the Biden administration will be.
The Russian Gazprom owns Nord Stream 2 AG, which is responsible for the planning, construction and operation of the pipeline. The project was financed by Uniper and Wintershall Dea in Germany, Engie in France, OMV in Austria and Shell in the Netherlands.