BERLIN • More evidence of US intimidation designed to halt a gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany has provoked anger in Berlin and threatens to further sour already tense transatlantic relations.
Three Republican Senators have written to the operator of Mukran Port on Germany’s Baltic coast, warning of “crushing legal and economic” sanctions over its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 project.
The port is a supply base for the pipeline, as Russian vessels seek to complete the last stretch of the 1,200km undersea link.
Nord Stream 2, owned by Russia’s Gazprom, has been a longstanding target for US President Donald Trump and is one of many bones of contention between Washington and Berlin. Mr Trump has said the pipeline is a conduit for “billions” of dollars flowing to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Initial measures that Mr Trump signed in December targeted pipe-laying vessels, throwing completion of the project into disarray. Congress has since backed expanding sanctions.
Germany’s BDI industry lobby has identified 120 firms in 12 European countries that could be affected, and estimates that investment worth €12 billion (S$19 billion) is at risk.
“The threatened sanctions would be a major violation of European and national sovereignty and cause economic and political damage,” said Dr Joachim Pfeiffer, the economic and energy policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s parliamentary caucus.
Europe’s priority must be to persuade US officials not to go ahead with new sanctions, but if that fails the European Union should respond with “tough countermeasures”, including possibly tariffs on American liquefied natural gas (LNG) Dr Pfeiffer said.
Mr Klaus Ernst, head of the Lower House of Parliament’s economy and energy committee, likened the US threats to blackmail.
Germany is being pressured to buy expensive LNG from the US or suffer the consequences, Mr Ernst said.
The threatened sanctions would be a major violation of European and national sovereignty and cause economic and political damage.
DR JOACHIM PFEIFFER, economic and energy policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s parliamentary caucus.