German Authorities Discussing ‘Shutdown Mechanism’ for Nord Stream 2

The German authorities are considering the possibility of creating a shutdown mechanism for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would be used in the case of a Russian attempt to decrease gas transit via Ukraine, Sputnik reports citing German media.

The WirtschaftsWoche newspaper reported that neither Chancellor Angela Merkel nor Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is ready to withdraw from the project regardless of the position of the US administration.

At the same time, the German government is reportedly discussing the possibility of creating a shutdown mechanism, which could be used in the case of Russia’s alleged attempts to threaten Ukraine with cutting gas supplies.

Maas reportedly believes that such a mechanism would make it impossible for Russia to use gas supplies as a tool of political pressure on Ukraine.

US State Department said on Wednesday that Washington will be monitoring activities to complete Nord Stream 2 and may invoke sanctions. The US is a vocal opponent of the project as it seeks to export more liquefied natural gas to Europe. Construction was suspended a year ago after US sanctions forced Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas to withdraw from Nord Stream 2, but resumed in December and is expected to take several months to complete.

The German authorities, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have repeatedly rejected the US extraterritorial sanctions and said they consider Nord Stream 2 to be an economic rather than political project. German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday that the US has for the first time ever signaled readiness to start negotiations on lifting sanctions against the pipeline.

“As for Nord Stream 2, we often said that on the one hand, this is an economic project, on the other hand, it has political implications, and this plays a big role in transatlantic relations,” Merkel said on Friday. She stressed that she considers extraterritorial sanctions as “not the best way” to settle differences.

According to the German chancellor, despite the “deep differences” between Russia and the EU, including Germany, she believes “it is strategically necessary to remain in dialogue with Russia on many geostrategic issues.”

The recent sentence for Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is also sparking rumors about possible sanctions that could target the project.