Nord Stream 2: Twists and turns of a controversial gas pipeline
For background on the project, including arguments from proponents and opponents of the pipeline, see our factsheet.
Gazprom announced in September 2021 that the pipeline construction has been finished. However, bureaucratic hurdles and mounting political tensions between Russia and NATO countries over Ukraine continue to put the project's future in doubt.
On 22 February 2022, German chancellor Olaf Scholz announced he had ordered the economy ministry to withdraw a supply security report which is an essential element for certification, effectively putting the process on hold. This came as a reaction to Russia's president Vladimir Putin officially recognising two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine.
Already in November 2021, Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) announced it “provisionally suspended” the certification procedure of the pipeline over legal details. It remained suspended in late January 2022. In addition, rising tensions at the border between Russia and the Ukraine mean that the German government says Nord Stream 2 could be part of a sanctions package in case of Russian aggression.
As recently as 21 July 2021 and following talks between former chancellor Angela Merkel and president Biden, Germany and the U.S. had reached an agreement that would allow the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In a joint statement, the countries express determination to “hold Russia to account for its aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools.”
The United States had earlier lifted sanctions against German company Nord Stream 2 AG, which is behind the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and its CEO Matthias Warnig. The Biden administration did so in a bid not to compromise U.S. relations with Germany, according to media reports. After more than a year of threatening to do so, the U.S. had introduced first sanctions on 19 January 2021, former president Donald Trump’s final full day in office.
The pipeline was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2019. About 2,300 km out of approximately 2,460 km had been laid by December 2019, when Swiss pipelaying company Allseas suspended activity following the introduction of U.S. sanctions legislation.
28 February: State premier of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Manuela Schwesig (SPD) asks the leadership of the “climate” foundation – which her government had pushed through parliament to support the construction against sanctions – to initiate the organisation’s break-up. Schwesig, who had been a staunch supporter of Nord Stream 2, says the war against Ukraine is a “turning point” for her state’s relations with Russia. Her government aims to assess whether the funds put into the foundation by Gazprom could be used for a good cause.
24 February: Russia is confident it can shrug off Germany’s decision to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and believes EU efforts to diversify the bloc’s energy sources will fail, according to three people close to the Kremlin and its state-run gas monopoly Gazprom, reports the Financial Times.
22 February: German chancellor Olaf Scholz orders the country’s economy ministry to initiate steps to effectively put the certification process for the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline on hold after Russia’s president Vladimir Putin recognises two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent statelets. The EU debates a sanctions package and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky also calls to include the halt to the pipeline as part of an “immediate sanctions” package.
18 February: At the Munich Security Conference, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock says it is “so difficult” for Germany to formulate sanctions “because we are highly dependent on fossil imports from Russia.” The country now needs to go for renewables, which she sees as a way to “make the world a bit more secure.”
7 February: U.S. President Joe Biden says “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2” if Russia launches an attack on Ukraine. During the first visit of new German chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington, DC at a time when the controversial pipeline’s role in the context of the Ukraine crisis is dominating the debate, Biden says “we will bring an end to it” if Russian troops cross the border. However, despite pledging unity among NATO partners regarding possible sanctions against Russia’s government, chancellor Scholz does not mention the pipeline at all during a joint press conference with Biden, merely stating that "all the steps we will take we will do together.”
5 February: Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck says that Germany must urgently reduce its dependence on Russian gas. “We’ve got to improve our preparations for next winter,” Habeck says in an interview, adding that work on finding alternatives to Russian gas has already started. “Our gas market is entirely deregulated,” he explains. “So far, there’s no way we can intervene at the state level. This can’t go on.” Geopolitics dictates that Germany finds new sources for imports for natural gas, which he argues will be needed until the 2030s to achieve the transition to renewables and green hydrogen.
27 January: Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock says Nord Stream 2 could be part of a package of sanctions against Russia. “We made it very clear that renewed military action against Ukraine would have massive consequences for Russia. On this basis, we are working on a strong sanctions package,” she tells parliament. “In the event of new aggression, we have a range of responses at our disposal, including Nord Stream 2.”
25 January: The British government declares the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be abandoned if Russia launches an attack on Ukraine. In an interview with Sky News on Monday, the country’s foreign minister Liz Truss says she is “very clear that Nord Stream 2 should not continue in the event of an attack on Ukraine.”
18 January: Germany may consider halting the Nord Stream 2 project if Russia attacks Ukraine, the government has hinted. "It is clear that there will be a high price to pay and that everything will have to be discussed should there be a military intervention in Ukraine," chancellor Olaf Scholz says after a meeting with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, responding to a question on the pipeline.
Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock was more direct. “We have made it clear: If energy is used as a weapon, this will have corresponding consequences for this pipeline,” she says at a Moscow press conference with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
17 December: Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks out against linking the operating permit for the controversial Russian-German natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. “Nord Stream 2 is a private sector project that has been advanced to the point where a pipeline has been laid,” Scholz says at a press conference with French president Emmanuel Macron after an EU summit.
14 December: Nord Stream 2 is not a suitable instrument to penalise Russia in case it attempts to invade neighbouring Ukraine, said German government sources in Berlin ahead of two days of meetings of EU leaders in Brussels. As the national and EU permit procedure for the pipeline is ongoing and would take a while, there is “neither the option of nor the need for a political decision at the moment”, said the sources.
12 December: Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) reiterates that Nord Stream 2 might not be allowed to operate in the event of any new "escalation" in Ukraine. The former government had already said that "in the event of further escalation this gas pipeline could not come into service," Baerbock tells German television station ZDF.
12 December: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) says Germany is committed to safeguarding Ukraine's role as a transit route for gas into Europe, as Russian troop movements along the Ukrainian border increased pressure on the pipeline. "We will also help Ukraine be a country that will be a major source of renewable energy and the necessary production that results from that."
27 October: Following an analysis which forms part of the official approval procedure, Germany's economy ministry says Nord Stream 2 will not endanger gas supply security in Germany or the EU. The ministry adds consultations with EU neighbouring states have been part of its analysis. The ministry says it passed its report on to Germany's grid agency, which will continue the certification process.
20 October: Green party co-leader Annalena Baerbock says Nord Stream 2 should only be granted its operating permit if it adheres to European energy law. “The operator of Nord Stream 2 must be different from the one who is supplying the gas," she says in an interview with Funke-Mediengruppe.
8 September: Gazprom plans to start flowing natural gas through the first leg of Nord Stream 2 by October 2021, sources tell Bloomberg. Nord Stream 2 still needs to receive technical certification and insurance, which may be challenging due to the U.S. sanctions imposed last year. The operator also needs a preliminary go-ahead from the German regulator, which is currently considering Nord Stream 2’s application for the status of an independent transmission system operator, writes Bloomberg.
7 September: The operator of the controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 announces that the project is almost complete. The last pipe segments connecting Germany and Russia through the Baltic Sea have successfully been welded onboard a construction vessel in the region, operator Nord Stream 2 AG says.
25 August: A German court rejects an appeal by Nord Stream 2 AG to sidestep European Union rules separating production from transportation, Bloomberg reports. The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court dismissed a bid by Gazprom, the owner of the pipeline project, to overturn the German Network Agency’s decision to impose the EU measures. The decision may delay the start of the operations of the pipeline.
18 August: Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock reiterates her opposition to Nord Stream 2 in a joint interview with the Financial Times, France’s Le Monde and Austria’s Der Standard. “Even if construction is completed, this doesn’t automatically mean gas will flow through. The pipeline is not yet fully certified.” Asked whether the Greens would deny certification, she says: “In any case, we would do our utmost to ensure that this pipeline does not further divide Europe.” One had to “show toughness” with Russia “and if it is made clear that this pipeline no longer has any political support, then it is questionable anyway whether there are still any European actors who want to be involved in it.”
10 August: Following reports from 2 July that Gazprom held off from booking additional capacity for gas supplies via Ukraine to put pressure on Nord Stream 2 completion, several media including Tagesspiegel Background report that western Europe’s largest gas storage Rheden in Lower Saxony – operated by Gazprom subsidiary Astora – reached its lowest level since at least 2014, with less than 9 percent. News agency Interfax had reported on 1 August that Gazprom had reduced gas injection into underground storage facilities in Europe. The reduced inflow of Russian gas could be connected to a fire in a gas processing plant in Russia, writes Tagesspiegel. However, analyst Kirsten Westphal had told the news service Russia could be demonstrating its strength by sending less gas to Europe.
3 August: Dirk Messner, head of Germany's environment agency (UBA) says NS2 could soon be outdated for climate policy reasons. "Nord Stream 2 could quickly become something of a dinosaur among energy projects, because we want to have [net] zero emissions by 2045," he tells Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
23 July: Green Party chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock criticises the Nord Stream 2 agreement with the U.S. government. "I still think this pipeline is wrong, for climate policy reasons, but above all geostrategically," Baerbock tells the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She says the pipeline endangers Ukraine’s security and is aimed at splitting the European Union, adding that Eastern Europeans are "rightly angry" with the German government "for unilaterally sticking to this pipeline." In order for Ukraine to become more independent of Russia, she says, it is essential "that we massively support the conversion of Ukraine's energy supply to renewable energies."
21 July: Germany and the U.S. reach an agreement that allows for the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In a joint statement, the countries express determination to “hold Russia to account for its aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools.” Berlin and Washington have also pledged to invest in Ukraine’s green energy infrastructure with a fund of at least one billion dollars and will aim to ensure Russian gas flow through Ukraine to continue beyond 2024.
20 July: The United States and Germany are expected to announce an agreement resolving their long-standing dispute over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, sources close to the matter have said. The agreement will likely avert the continuation of the currently waived sanctions against the company behind the pipeline, Nord Stream AG, and its chief executive. Sources said the deal will include commitments by both sides to ensure increased investment in Ukraine's energy sector to compensate for any fallout from the new pipeline. "We expect those conversations to reach resolution in coming days,” one of the sources said.
15 July: Angela Merkel and U.S. president Biden discuss the pipeline during the chancellor’s trip to Washington, D.C. They agree they wouldn’t allow Russia to use the pipeline to threaten its neighbours amid a push to limit the Kremlin’s geopolitical clout, but the leaders acknowledge that differences remain over the project. “My view on Nord Stream 2 has been known for some time,” Biden says. “Good friends can disagree. By the time I became president, it was 90% completed and imposing sanctions did not seem to make any sense.” Merkel says that government officials from both sides continue to talk about the issue, and also debate ways Germany and Europe could react in a situation where Russia broke with its promises. “We’ll see,” adds Biden.
13 July: Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel reassures Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Germany would do everything to ensure Ukraine remains a gas transit state even after the completion of the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline. She will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to find a “common position” on the project in talks with President Joe Biden, said the chancellor at a press conference with the Ukrainian leader.
12 July: In light of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's upcoming visit to Washington to meet U.S. President Joe Biden on 15 July, Andreas Kluth writes in an opinion piece for Bloomberg that Nord Stream 2 is “a stain on her otherwise expansive and nuanced legacy, and a liability to her successor." Kluth adds: “The geopolitical threat posed by Nord Stream 2 seems blatant enough for Poland, the Baltic republics, France, the European Union and other allies, which all oppose the pipeline alongside the U.S. Nonetheless, the Germans keep burying their heads in the sand like geo-strategic ostriches.”
11 July: The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be finished this summer and be operational "before the end of the year," Matthias Warnig, head of Nord Stream 2 AG, says in an interview with newspaper Handelsblatt. "We expect the construction work to be completed by the end of August," Warnig said. "Ninety-eight percent of the pipeline has already been completed. The two percent that is still missing concerns one of the two lines. The other line is completely built." He added that gas will also flow through Ukraine in the future. Warnig dismissed reports that there were problems with the certification of the work required by the licensing authorities. "In the end, we will have a pipeline that meets all licensing requirements and international industry standards," he said.
8 July: Nord Stream 2 could face an additional hurdle in a German approval procedure, reports Tagesspiegel Background. While the dispute over the extend to which EU gas market regulations govern the pipeline is still ongoing, Nord Stream 2 AG applied for “precautionary” certification as an independent transmission system operator to get the green light from regulator BNetzA. The economy ministry plays a key role in assessing the application, reports Tagesspiegel. The ministry has to examine whether this would endanger gas supply security in Germany or EU neighbours – and possibly even Ukraine, due to the existing association agreement with the European Union. Should this be the case, it could be “a gateway for non-approval” of the pipeline, Tagesspiegel quotes energy law expert Cornelia Ziehm. It would at least force the economy ministry to comment, she said.
2 July: Gazprom holds off from booking additional capacity for gas supplies via Ukraine, needed to meet rising demands in recent months, thereby pressing the case for Nord Stream 2 to be completed, analysts have told Reuters. "This summer Gazprom has yet to purchase any capacity in the (Ukraine's) monthly auctions therefore one could see this as a strategy to push Nord Stream 2 to completion," said Nick Campbell, a director at consultancy Inspired Energy. Gas prices have exceeded 400 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres on the European gas hubs, reflecting Gazproms decision to refrain from using extra capacity, Sergiy Makogon, head of Ukraine's gas pipelines operator, told the news agency. "I believe, that by doing this, the Kremlin is sending a clear message: It's no use waiting for an increase in gas supplies without the commissioning of Nord Stream 2," he said.
30 June: Poland's foreign minister Zbigniew Rau has criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin's remarks on Nord Stream 2 as a project of "constructive interdependence" between Russia and Europe. In a guest article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Rau said the pipeline would lure Germany into an "imperial trap" that would severely hurt security cooperation within NATO and also jeopardise Ukraine's security as a whole. "Putin did not invest huge sums in this pipeline to miss the opportunity for using it as a political tool," Rau argued.
22 June: In a guest article for the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is rooted in the tradition of cooperation between German and Russian companies that was key to securing peace in Europe after the Second World War. Already in 1970, the Soviet Union and Western Germany concluded long-term gas supply contracts -- "deals of the century," as Putin called them. "These had laid the groundwork for a constructive interdependence and many great follow-up projects, for example Nord Stream 2," Putin said.
13 June: In the dispute over Nord Stream 2, Ukraine brings the possibility of financial aid into the picture because of the threat of revenue losses from gas transit. "If we are offered talks on compensation, we will look into it," foreign minister Dmitri Kuleba told Die Welt. "But we will not necessarily agree to what is then proposed."
12 June: German chancellor Merkel expresses confidence about the pipeline after her first face-to-face meeting with U.S. president Biden. We are "on the right track", she said on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, England. She said she agreed with Biden that it was "existential and indispensable" to continue to involve Ukraine in the gas transit from Russia to Europe.
11 June: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Washington, D.C. to try to settle the transatlantic dispute between the U.S. and Germany over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, reports Handelsblatt. A meeting with president Joe Biden is scheduled for 15 July.
4 June: Russia is ready to start filling its Nord Stream 2 pipeline with gas as that first line has been finished, President Vladimir Putin told an economic forum on 4 June, reports Reuters. "Today... the pipelaying work of the first Nord Stream 2 line was successfully finished. Work on the second line is ongoing," Putin told the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. "Gazprom is ready to start filing Nord Stream 2 with gas."
3 June: According to TASS news agency, Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said around 100 kilometres of the pipeline are left to build, writes Reuters. "We hope that construction works on Nord Stream 2 will be completed by the end of this year,” he said.
2 June 2021: Based on the recent constitutional court’s climate ruling, German NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) has requested with the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) to revoke Nord Stream 2’s construction and operating permit on climate grounds. It says the climate effects of the project have so far not been examined. It calls to do so now and halt construction until the result is available.
2 June 2021: Germany will send a high-level delegation to Washington in June as part of an effort to patch lingering rifts, including tension over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia and spying practices, reports Bloomberg.
2 June 2021: Manuela Schwesig, state premier of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania where Nord Stream 2 lands, has reiterated her support for the project. “A large industrial nation like Germany needs gas as another energy source for a limited period of time,” she said at the 4th Russia Day. “I say quite clearly: it is better, more cost-effective and also environmentally and climate-friendly to receive gas via the pipeline for a temporary transition instead of transporting particularly harmfully produced liquefied gas across the oceans,” she added, hinting at U.S. LNG. She proposed a Russian-German hydrogen partnership for future energy cooperation among the countries.
31 May 2021: A large group of European and U.S. politicians, diplomats, researchers and civil society representatives signed a joint appeal to the German government calling for a construction moratorium for Nord Stream 2 “to allow for serious political dialogue”. The appeal was organised by Center for Liberal Modernity (LibMod), a German think tank critical of the Russian government and focussed on transatlantic issues.
20 May 2021: Chancellor Merkel welcomes the decision by U.S. president Biden to drop some of the sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. "The president has moved a bit into our direction in the context of the Nord Stream 2 conflict,” Merkel told German public broadcaster WDR on Thursday, while emphasizing that the countries continue to have different views on the issue.
19 May 2021: The U.S. decide to waive sanctions against German company Nord Stream AG, which is behind the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and its CEO Matthias Warnig, despite the players' involvement in sanctionable actions. The Biden administration lifts the sanctions so as not to compromise the relationship with Germany, U.S. media report.
17 May 2021: The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) orders a permit for the construction of a 2-kilometre relocation of the pipeline in German waters. The relocation is needed to lay the pipeline safely on the seabed during the temporary suspension of construction until the end of May, which followed a lawsuit by environmental organisation NABU.
4 May 2021: The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) temporarily suspends the permit for construction of the pipeline in German waters until the end of May, according to Russian media. The suspension follows a lawsuit by environmental organisation NABU.
3 May 2021: The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) files a lawsuit against the continued construction of the pipeline. NABU demands that the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), which granted Nord Stream 2 a permit on 14 January 2021 to continue construction in German waters until the end of May, compensates the damage to marine ecosystems caused by the construction. The BSH previously rejected an objection from NABU and Environmental Action Germany (DUH).
15 April 2021: Germany will violate its Paris Climate Agreement obligations if it sticks to current infrastructure plans for natural gas, warns the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). The researchers say the country must rapidly exit the fossil fuel, instead of continuing its plans for new natural gas power stations, import terminals and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Natural gas should not be considered a "bridging technology" on the way to climate neutrality, the DIW adds.
14 April 2021: NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) files a lawsuit against the continued construction of the pipeline. DUH says it directs the lawsuit against the approval of the construction work in German waters, particularly during birds’ sensitive resting periods, by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), which oversees the process. The BSH previously rejected the NGO's objection.
12 April 2021: President Joe Biden is not willing to compromise on the project and is "determined to use all available means to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2," U.S. Berlin embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz tells newspaper Tagesspiegel.
1 April 2021: Germany’s transatlantic coordinator Peter Beyer calls for a construction moratorium on the pipeline in a bid to repair transatlantic relations. Beyer says the project is a “serious stumbling block” for the restart of relations with the United States. “European sovereignty must not be misunderstood or reinterpreted as a fortress Europe,” he says. “Strong Europe – yes. Isolation from the USA – no.”
1 April 2021: Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), which granted Nord Stream 2 a permit for a short period in German waters on 14 January 2021, rejects objections from environmental organisations Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Environmental Action Germany (DUH). The BSH says that, based on the impact assessment of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, the relocation of the Fortuna vessel is expected to cause “no significant impacts on the marine environment or the conservation objectives of the Pomeranian Bay Bird Sanctuary.” Shortly after, DUH announces it will take legal action against the BSH. The environmental organisation argues that the maritime organisation did not sufficiently examine nature conservation and climate impacts when approving the pipeline construction.
26 March 2021: The NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) files a lawsuit against the state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would land. DUH wants access to information concerning the Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection, an entity the state set up to support completion of the pipeline. But the state is keeping details about the foundation from the public, says DUH. “In order to protect Nord Stream 2, the state government is even willing to disregard legally guaranteed information rights,” says DUH director Sascha Müller-Kraenner.
18 March: The Biden administration reiterates the project is a “bad deal” for Germany, Ukraine and Central and Eastern European countries, and a “geopolitical project intended to divide Europe and weaken European energy security.” In his statement, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken says the Biden administration is committed to complying with sanctions imposed by Congress. “The Department reiterates its warning that any entity involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks U.S. sanctions and should immediately abandon work on the pipeline.”
1 March 2021: The “climate” foundation that was set up by the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in an effort to complete the construction of the pipeline is a matter for the state itself, the German government says in an answer to a parliamentary question asked by the Green Party. The party inquired about the government’s stance on the establishment of the foundation, arguing the foundation is only there to facilitate the completion of the controversial pipeline.
25 February: Oil and gas company Wintershall Dea limits investments in Nord Stream 2, according to the company’s 2020 annual report. The company limited its original loan of up to 950 million euros for the gas pipeline to 730 million euros, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes. "Further disbursements are not planned,” the report said.
24 February: Researchers Brick Medak and Felix Heilmann of think tank E3G call on German chancellor Merkel to take the reins on Nord Stream 2, agree a moratorium on the construction and organise a summit with key actors Russia, the U.S., Ukraine, eastern European countries, the European Commission, the companies involved and civil society. “Now is the time for diplomacy,” they write in an op-ed in Tagesspiegel Background. Parallel to the summit, an international panel of experts should be commissioned to shed light on the energy and climate policy background of the pipeline in a study, they say.
23 February: Eighteen European companies have withdrawn or are in the process of withdrawing from the pipeline project following U.S. sanctions threats, according to a U.S. state department report for Congress submitted on Friday (19 February). "This shows that the legislative goals and our actions have been successful," U.S. state department spokesman Ned Price said. "We continue to monitor companies involved in potentially sanctionable acts."
22 February 2021: Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau and Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba call for an end to Nord Stream 2, as it damages the “strong, vibrant and resilient West”, the ministers write in an opinion piece published by Politico. The United States can play an important role in preventing the completion of the pipeline, the ministers say.
20 February 2021: The Biden administration singles out a Russian ship for violating U.S. sanctions on the construction of the pipeline, Bloomberg reports. Like in the first round, the U.S. sanctions the ship Fortuna. Not sanctioning German entities involved can be seen as reflecting reported decisions by the new administration not to challenge Germany over its support for the pipeline, in an effort not to antagonise a key European ally.
19 February 2021: The U.S. might hold off on sanctioning German companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project, as the Biden administration seeks to halt the project without antagonizing a close European ally, Bloomberg reports. It would instead put only a small number of Russia-linked entities on the list.
16 February 2021: The Biden administration might be willing to make a deal with Berlin on Nord Stream 2, according to German media sources. However, it remains unclear whether Biden would even consider doing so in the face of clear bipartisan opposition in the U.S. Congress. A deal could involve waiving sanctions in exchange for an agreement that Germany would stop future natural gas deliveries through the pipeline, for example in case Russia puts pressure on Ukraine.
9 February 2021: German environmental NGO Umwelthilfe publishes a letter written by German finance minister Olaf Scholz to former U.S. counterpart Steven Mnuchin. In the letter, dated 7 August 2020 and reported by Zeit in September 2020, Germany offers financial support for German liquid natural gas (LNG) importers to enable them to directly import U.S. LNG in a bid to prevent the U.S. from imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
9 February 2021: German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier defends the pipeline by pointing at the "bigger picture", including Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during WWII, in an interview with German newspaper Rheinische Post. The presidents' comments leave Ukraine angry as they ignore the Ukrainian victims of the war. The Ukrainian ambassador says the president's stance was met with "surprise and indignation" in Kyiv.
6 February 2021: The construction of the pipeline with the Russian vessel Fortuna restarts in Danish waters despite U.S. sanctions.
1 February 2021: France urges Germany to drop the Nord Stream 2 project in light of the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
21 January 2021: The European Parliament calls for a halt to Nord Stream 2 after the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. On the same day, Merkel reaffirms her support for Nord Stream 2, despite growing opposition in Germany and the EU. “My basic attitude has not yet changed to the point where I say the project should not exist,” Merkel says at a press conference in Berlin.
19 January 2021: The U.S. announces sanctions for the first time – on the Russian pipe laying vessel Fortuna. The German government says it “notes” the decision “with regret.” Previously, there had only been a threat of sanctions.
15 January 2021: Nord Stream 2 receives a renewed construction permit from Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) for a short stretch in German waters after the original permit had run out. Rresearchers from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) question whether Germany needs the pipeline for its natural gas supply.
6 January 2021: The parliament of the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would land, sets up a “climate” foundation in an effort to circumvent the threat of U.S. sanctions. To justify its purpose of finalising Nord Stream 2, the pipeline is highlighted as a special contribution to energy security and a source of natural gas, the energy transition’s "bridging technology.” Environmentalists criticise the plans and say they will fuel the climate crisis. German political analyst Thomas O'Donnell of the Hertie School of Governance says the plan is unlikely to work, as “no company […] will sell equipment to this foundation.”
1 January 2021: The U.S. Congress authorises new sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the pipeline.
28 December 2020: The Russian pipe laying vessel Fortuna leaves the Nord Stream 2 construction site in the Baltic Sea, indicating that the construction in German waters may have been completed.
11 December 2020: The pipeline’s construction continues with the Russian pipe laying vessel Fortuna, which completes a short 2.6 km stretch in German waters.
30 November 2020: Certification company DNV-GL suspends certification work for vessels involved in the pipeline project citing possible sanctions under the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act (PEESA) as the reason.
23 November 2020: The U.S. increases pressure on people and companies associated with the construction of the pipeline and its leaders make several direct phone calls. "We are making these calls to warn them and give them time to get out," said a U.S. administration representative.
3 September 2020: German politicians call for halt to the Nord Stream 2 project following the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Norbert Röttgen, a lawmaker with German chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), calls for a “clear European response” and says “diplomatic rituals” would no longer suffice as a reaction to Russia’s “inhumane politics.”
28 August 2020: The poisoning of Alexei Navalny and the completion of the natural gas pipeline are “separate issues,” and linking them would “not be appropriate,” German chancellor Angela Merkel says during her annual press conference in Berlin. Navalny was treated a hospital in Germany earlier in the month after being poisoned in Russia.
12 August 2020: Utility company Uniper, one of the investors in the Nord Stream 2 project, publishes a report saying the pipeline could be delayed or even fail altogether due to the threat of U.S. sanctions.
7 August 2020: Three Republican senators threaten that the U.S. will impose "crushing legal and economic sanctions" on the port of Sassnitz on the German Baltic Sea, a key hub for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
5 August 2020: Environmental Action Germany (DUH) says it is suing to stop Nord Stream 2 from going into operation over methane leakage concerns.
15 July 2020: The U.S. threatens investors to ditch Nord Stream 2. It is meant as a “clear warning” to companies that aiding the project would not be tolerated by Washington. “Get out now, or risk the consequences,” secretary of state Mike Pompeo said.
18 June 2020: All parties in the German parliament reject the economic sanctions threatened by the U.S. In a statement released by parliament's economy and energy committee, the MPs said that "there has been solid cross-party unanimity that these extraterritorial sanctions are in violation of international law and cannot be accepted."
8 June 2020: German officials condemn U.S. plans to expand NS2 sanctions, shortly after several U.S. senators, including Ted Cruz (Republican) and Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat) presented a bill that would expand existing sanctions and penalise all companies involved in the project.
May 2020: Russia defies threats from the U.S. and deploys a new vessel to finish the construction of Nord Stream 2. The vessel, Akademik Cherskiy, replaces a ship provided by Swiss company Allseas, which was withdrawn from the construction in December 2019 following U.S. threats.
19 February 2020: German economy minister Peter Altmaier criticises the Nord Stream 2 sanctions and says the importance of Russian gas for Germany is set to grow further amid the German energy transition. Altmaier says he regrets the decision by the U.S. to impose sanctions and stresses that Germany is going to "need more natural gas, not less" as it phases out coal-fired power production over the next years.
11 January 2020: Nord Stream 2 could be finished by the end of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021, Russian president Vladimir Putin says during a press conference, following a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow.
30 December 2019: Russian and Ukrainian companies sign a final five-year agreement safeguarding Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine.
21 December 2019: The Swiss offshore contractor Allseas suspends its Nord Stream 2 pipe-laying activities, anticipating the enactment of the U.S. sanctions as President Donald Trump signs legislation. The move effectively halts construction for about a year.
19 December 2019: German chancellor Angela Merkel criticises the U.S. sanctions to be imposed on companies working on Nord Stream 2, shortly after the relevant legislation was approved by the U.S. Senate. “We are opposed to extraterritorial sanctions,” Merkel said during question time in the national parliament.
8 February 2019: EU member states agree to a last-ditch deal struck by France and Germany that introduces tougher requirements for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but does not endanger the project as a whole.
January 2019: The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, writes letters to companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, urging them to stop working on the project and threatening them with the possibility of sanctions.
4 December 2018: German foreign minister Heiko Maas says Germany will not withdraw its political support for Nord Stream 2, despite tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
14 November 2018: The U.S. ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, threatens sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and says the U.S. has “not deployed the full set of tools yet” to thwart the completion of the pipeline.
24 October 2018: Polish president Andrzej Duda calls for a stop to Nord Stream 2 during a visit to Germany, arguing that it would upset the “energy balance.”
19 September 2018: Germany says it will choose a location for its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal by the end of the year as a gesture to the U.S., which wants to ship more gas to Europe. (By February 2021, there was still no final investment decision on a domestic German LNG terminal)
21 August 2018: Russia says it is ready to defy “illegal” U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2, as the U.S. administration reiterates its threat to impose sanctions on companies involved in the project.
18 August 2018: Russian President Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet near Berlin to discuss issues surrounding Nord Stream 2, including the possible disadvantages for Ukraine. Merkel reiterates that “Ukraine has to play a role also with Nord Stream 2 in place.”
11 July 2018: US president Donald Trump lashes out at Nord Stream 2 and says Germany is “totally controlled by” and “captive of” Russia, as the natural gas pipeline will increase Germany’s reliance on Russian energy resources.
18 May 2018: Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko says the Nord Stream 2 project would empower Moscow to “attack our common values” and the pipeline would be “a tragic historic mistake.”
28 March 2018: With the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), the last German authority approves the construction and operation of Nord Stream 2.
31 January 2018: Germany grants Nord Stream 2 a permit for construction and operation in German waters and landfall areas near Lubmin.
25 April 2017: To find an alternative way to get the project going, Uniper, Wintershall, ENGIE, OMV and Royal Dutch Shell sign a financing agreement with Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Gazprom responsible for the development of the Nord Stream 2 project.
12 August 2016: Gazprom’s partners ENGIE, Gazprom, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall withdraw their application for merger approval from the Polish competition authority for Nord Stream 2. Gazprom says the withdrawal will not affect the construction of the pipeline.
7 March 2016: Eight EU leaders sign a letter objecting to Nord Stream 2 citing geopolitical reasons.