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US Ambassador Richard Grenell. Wikipedia

US Ambassadors threaten Nord Stream 2 companies

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has sent warning letters to several German companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

Published: January 13, 2019, 9:40 am

    Berlin

    The letter was published the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

    According to the paper, Grenell has threatened US sanctions in his letters should the companies continue to participate in the project.

    The pipeline holds serious geopolitical implications for European partners in the US, according to the letter. Nord Stream 2 and Turk Stream would make the recent European gas imports through Ukraine superfluous.

    This increases the danger of Russian intervention, according to the US ambassador. In addition, the EU will become dependent on Russia for energy security.

    “As a result, companies supporting the construction of both pipelines are actively undermining the security of Ukraine and Europe,” Grenell argued.

    “We emphasize that companies involved in the Russian energy export sector are involved in something that could entail a significant sanction risk,” he warned.

    According to the newspaper, such letters were sent to several German companies probably in coordination with various US authorities, which are part of the blackmail.

    The 1 200 kilometre pipeline will transport 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas from the Jamal peninsula to Germany per year and, according to the Gazprom website, is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

    Earlier, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had rejected US resistance to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under construction. Maas also said closer cooperation with Moscow should follow. “Questions of European energy policy must be decided in Europe, not in the US,” said the SPD politician at the New Year’s reception of the East Committee and East European Association of German Business in Berlin.

    Several countries are against the project, among them Ukraine. The country claims it is worried about its revenue from the transit of Russian gas. The Russian side had repeatedly stated that the new project did not mean an end to gas transit through Ukraine.

    The dispute over the new pipeline bringing Russian gas to Europe has spilled over into the Netherlands with a tit for tat spat between the Russian and US ambassadors in a Dutch newspaper. Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Gazprom and five European gas companies, among which Dutch-English Shell.

    On Tuesday, Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands accused the United States of “promoting its own energy sources for the European market by slandering competitors” in a letter to the biggest Dutch daily, the Telegraaf.

    The ambassador’s response comes in the wake of an earlier letter from American ambassador Pete Hoekstra in which he urges the Dutch government to pull out of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipe project. Dutch firms Van Oord and Boskalis are involved in the construction project.

    Hoekstra warned in his letter that the new pipeline will “provide Russia with a powerful new capability to control, influence and potentially undermine the West”. Hoekstra also argued that the project, which bypasses Ukraine, will endanger the safety of that country by removing “any motivation for Russia to engage good faith negotiations in regards to Ukraine”.

    Russian ambassador Alexander Shulgin has pointed out that Russian gas will be on average 30 percent cheaper than American LNG, while the shorter new pipeline will also make gas cheaper and cleaner.

    Shulgin said Hoekstra is “taking on a misguided messiah role to tell others what to do”. He added: “The Netherlands must decide for itself what is better for the country – cheap Russian gas or expensive American gas.”

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