U.S. Yet to Decide on Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

The United States is still keen to block the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet pushing for sanctions against companies that would be involved in the project, EUobserver reports.

“We oppose Nord Stream 2, we would prefer the pipeline not be built at all, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk said on Monday.

But her visit to Brussels, Paris, and Copenhagen this week should not be seen as “sign sanctions will or won’t happen,” Oudkirk insisted.

Last year, Denmark passed a law to try to block the pipeline going through its territorial waters. But Oudkirk said that whether it would block the pipeline altogether was “a question for Denmark”.

The U.S. Congress last summer passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which president Donald Trump signed on August 2, and which among other plans sanctions on companies that invest in Russian energy export projects.

“Any company working in the sector of Russian energy export pipelines faces elevated sanctions risk now that they didn’t face on August 1,” Oudkirk noted.

She added however that the U.S. did “not talk about pending sanctions announcements, publicly or privately.”

Speaking to a group of journalists ahead of meetings with EU officials, Oudkirk said that Nord Stream 2 (NS2) was “geopolitically a bad idea.” She said that the U.S. did not view Russia “as a particularly reliable supplier” and that the pipeline would “build in vulnerability” for Europe.

“It builds in another infrastructure generation of dependence upon Russia as a primary if not the sole source of gas for a large number of countries,” she argued.

The European Commission is also opposed to the pipeline, saying that it could be against EU rules and that it is a “risky” project. But the EC is also opposed to potential U.S. sanctions and said last summer that the EU would consider retaliating if concerns over European companies’ interests were ignored.