Monday, February 22, 2021
US sanctions as a threat
18 companies get out of Nord Stream 2
Shortly before the change of power, the Trump administration is still imposing sanctions over Nord Stream 2. The Biden administration continues to strictly reject the pipeline, but does not take any new punitive actions. Nevertheless, 18 European companies leave the project.
The threats of sanctions by the USA against the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 are having an effect: after considerable pressure from the government in Washington, at least 18 European companies have now ended their participation in the controversial project or have promised to withdraw, according to a report by the US State Department to Congress. According to the information, the companies also include the industrial service provider Bilfinger from Mannheim and the Munich Re insurer Munich Re Syndicate Limited.
So far, the US has only imposed sanctions on the Russian company KVT-RUS, which operates the Fortuna laying ship, because of Nord Stream 2 – the government of the Republican US President Donald Trump announced these punitive measures shortly before the end of her term in January. The company and the ship are also specifically mentioned in the new report. Contrary to expectations, other companies are not punished or threatened with punitive measures. Republicans had therefore sharply criticized the administration of the new Democratic US President Joe Biden.
Senator Ted Cruz said at the weekend: “The Biden administration is signaling that it is ready to allow the pipeline to be completed, with catastrophic consequences for American national security and for the energy security of our European allies. The US State Department transmitted the Report to Congress last Friday, but has not yet made it public. ”
Most of the companies that have ended or are ending their participation in Nord Stream 2 are insurance groups, according to the report. Most of these companies are based in the UK. The Swiss Zurich Insurance Group and the Axa Group, based in Paris, have also ended their work on Nord Stream 2, according to the US State Department.
“Attack on the sovereignty of Germany”
The report, signed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also explicitly addresses the attitude of the federal government. “The German government is still fully behind the Nord Stream 2 project,” it says there. The federal government emphasizes that it is a necessary economic project. “Germany firmly rejects US sanctions as an attack on the sovereignty of Germany and the EU.”
The United States are storming the project because they fear that their partners in Europe are too dependent on Russia. At the end of 2019, construction work on the pipeline was stopped shortly before completion, after the US had enacted an initial sanctions law (Peesa) against the special ships that laid the pipes. However, US critics argue that the US wants to sell its own gas in Europe.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that the government had already made it clear that it considered Nord Stream 2 a “bad deal” and that companies risked sanctions if they were involved. Biden will consult with the European partners on this.