Russia and Germany denounce US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 pipeline

By Peter Spinella and Simon Sachseder, dpa

US sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany are an unfair attempt to maintain US positions on the European gas market, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

The pipeline, to expand Russian gas supplies directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, is set to come into operation in the coming months. The US Senate approved the sanctions on Tuesday.

The sanctions are a “direct violation of international law and an ideal example of unfair competition,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in comments carried by state media.

The US is attempting to maintain its “artificial domination of European markets” and force Europeans to buy gas from the US at a higher price than from nearby Russia, Peskov said.

In Germany, the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) called for more protection for European companies following the US vote for sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

“Berlin and Brussels must finally talk about how European firms can be protected from extra-territorial sanctions, regardless of which state issues them,” VDMA Managing Director Thilo Brodtmann said on Wednesday.

“We can’t prevent extra-territorial sanctions by other states,” he said, “but it is possible to mitigate their effects and thus reduce their chances of success.”

The new leader of Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), Saskia Esken, called for a diplomatic response to the sanctions, but made no specific suggestions.

The US Senate approved sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Tuesday as part of a defence spending bill that passed with an overwhelming majority of 86-8. Lawmakers have included laws in the massive package aimed at punishing Russia, Turkey and China.

Congress decided to impose sanctions on companies involved in the controversial project despite criticism from Germany.

President Donald Trump, who championed much of the legislation that includes his signature Space Force, is expected to sign the bill this week.

Nord Stream 2 and another gas pipeline soon to be put into operation, TurkStream, between Russia and Turkey, have raised concerns in Kiev that Russia will avoid sending gas to conflict-laden Ukraine.

Moscow has been at least nominally supporting pro-Russian rebel groups fighting the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, for the past five years.

Kiev attests that the new pipelines undermine European Union efforts intended to force Russia to end the conflict, in which about 13,000 people have been killed, according to United Nations estimates.

Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to renew a gas supply contract that expires this year have not yielded a new agreement. The sides are expected to meet on Thursday in Berlin.

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