Russia ready to defy "illegal" US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 operators
The Russian government has said it is ready to resist "illegal" attempts to intervene in the completion of the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project that it plans together with Germany, as the US government has reiterated its threat to impose sanctions on companies involved in the project, according to media reports. News agency Dow Jones said the US administration is working on “concrete punitive measures” against the pipeline that are aimed at “sending a clear signal to everyone involved in Russian pipeline projects,” the agency quotes a source familiar with the proceedings. However, the source said it was not clear whether these sanctions would apply only to companies active on site or also to banks funding the project. According to the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, a business lobby group, the US sanctions could pull the plug on Nord Stream 2.
Russian news agency Interfax quotes Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Merkel and the Russian president “addressed” the issue of interventions in their plans at a meeting near Berlin on 18 August. Peskov said the pipeline is “fully commercially beneficial,” making it necessary to ensure that it “would be protected from possible non-competitive and illegal attacks from third countries.” Peskov added that the German and Russian governments agreed that the pipeline has to be completed, and said the planned US sanctions “contradict, and are a gross violation of, all trade rules and norms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).”
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert refused to adopt the language used by his Russian counterpart, adding that Germany's focus regarding the project currently was to ensure that gas transit through Ukraine will continue after the pipeline has opened.
See the CLEW article Putin and Merkel meet to find solution on Nord Stream 2 and a factsheet on the pipeline project for more information.