Wednesday, March 21, 2018

US Threatens Sanctions Over Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline

Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Russia's state gas giant Gazprom and five European companies, including France's Engie, Austria's OMV AG, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, as well as Royal Dutch Shell. Berlin and the EU have repeatedly expressed an interest in implementing the project.

Speaking at a news briefing on Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said that the White House opposes the Nord Stream 2 energy project, which she said rides roughshod over European energy security.

"As many people know, we oppose the Nord Stream 2 project, the US government does. We believe that the Nord Stream 2 project would undermine Europe's overall energy security and stability. It would provide Russia another tool to pressure European countries, especially countries such as Ukraine," Nauert said.

Nauert did not rule out that the US may slap sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the gas pipeline.

"At the State Department, we have spent a lot of time speaking with our partners and allies overseas to explain to them the ramifications of CAATSA (the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). And how an individual or a company or a country can run afoul against CAATSA and fall into sanctions. We don't tend to comment on sanctions actions but we've been clear that firm steps against Russian energy export pipeline sector could — if they engage in that kind of business – they could expose themselves to sanctions under CAATSA," she added.

The remarks came almost a week after a bipartisan group of 39 US senators sent a letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to block the construction of Nord Stream 2.

The senators asked Mnuchin to use executive branch powers, including a provision in CAATSA to identify and sanction US and foreign entities supporting or expanding Russian energy giant Gazprom's "near-monopolist role in providing energy to US allies."

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