US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 companies in new Pentagon budget bill

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U.S. sanctions on companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 have been written into the Pentagon budget bill for the 2020 financial year.

Jim Risch, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained that this was the last call for writing the sanctions into the bill as the majority of Nord Stream 2 has already been completed.

The chairman emphasized that the sanctions will be extremely severe and will discourage companies from participating in the project. “It will cost them dearly. I think if those sanctions pass, [the companies] will shut down, and I think the Russians will have to look for another way to do this, if they can do this,” Risch said.

Risch believes that the amendments concerning Nord Stream 2 have much in common with the “defense of European energy security” bill which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted through in July 2019.

In that bill, U.S. Senators determined that Russia is using resource delivery as a tool for political blackmail and Nord Stream 2 will facilitate Russian efforts even further. The new amendments foresee sanctions on financial and business partners of Nord Stream 2 in Western Europe.

The U.S. has previously passed a resolution against the project in 2018.

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, must now vote over adding the amendments to the budget project.

Meanwhile, German far-right Alternativ für Deutschland MP and member of the Bundestag Commission for Economy and Energy, Steffen Kotre, spoke out against the sanctions, claiming that they would lead to an “increase in the prices of gas for European consumers.”

He argued, that the sanctions will not be able to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2 and are “an act of aggressive U.S. economic policy towards Europe.” He also accused the US of being “wicked”.

Kotre stated that the real goal of the U.S. is to make way for the export of LNG gas to Europe.

According to German daily “Bild”, if the sanctions were to be introduced by Dec. 31, 2019, it would delay the project by five years. Experts underlined that the opting out of specialized companies due to sanctions would have “serious consequences”.

Nord Stream 2 is meant to be 1,200 kilometers long and the second gas line between Germany and Russia running through the Baltic Sea. The owner is Russian Gazprom with European investment partners including Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall.

The Nord Stream 2 investment is worth $11 billion with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

Poland along with other Visegrad Four countries have been opposed to the Nord Stream 2 project, claiming it will marginalize them politically and economically. The project will also provide an enormous new funding stream for the Russian government.

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