Former German chancellor urges counter-sanctions on US over pipeline

Fresh US sanctions aimed at blocking the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia with Germany are a blow to German and EU sovereignty, former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told parliament in Berlin on Wednesday.

Schroeder, currently chairman of the Nord Stream board, urged the German government to pressure the EU into counter-sanctions on the United States.

The new sanctions threatened by Washington would hit more than 120 German and EU companies that are either working or have worked on the pipeline, on which work has been halted, Schroeder said.

Investments worth billions of dollars would be hit, he said.

“I am not here to make politics, but because you have invited me,” the 76-year-old, who was chancellor between 1998 and 2005, told the Bundestag’s economy committee.

Asked which counter-sanctions he had in mind, Schroeder said he was not an expert on this as he was no longer a serving politician, which he joked he only half regretted.

In response to US sanctions, Swiss-based offshore contractor Allseas halted work on Nord Stream 2, which aims to double the current capacity of Nord Stream 1, at the end of last year.

Russian President Vladimir has insisted that work will proceed on the pipeline, which is near completion, but the company has hit another difficulty in that new EU competition rules require gas ownership to be separated from delivery.

This creates difficulties for Russia’s Gazprom, which effectively owns and operates the pipelines.

The US sees the pipeline as increasing German and EU energy dependence on Russia and as undermining Poland and Ukraine as pipeline transit countries.

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