President Donald Trump signed on Friday, December 21, 2019, US sanctions against companies that build a pipeline between Russia and Germany, which according to Congress could give the Kremlin a dangerous influence on European allies.
The sanctions, which the European Union opposes, were included in an extensive defense expenditure bill for fiscal year 2020 and reaches companies that build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea.
The work, of almost USD 11 billion, aims to double deliveries of Russian natural gas to the main economy of Europe, Germany.RELATED
The pipeline, which is almost complete, passes under the Baltic Sea, eluding Ukraine.
The sanctions are framed in a bill of annual financing of the Pentagon much more extensive for USD 738 billion.
The US measures angered Moscow and the European Union, which says it should be able to decide its own energy policies.
In an exchange on Friday with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated his "strong opposition" to the construction of Nord Stream 2.
Allseas said they will suspend their Nord Stream 2 pipeline activities after U.S. President Donald Trump on December 20, 2019, signed legislation imposing sanctions on companies that put pipes for the Nord Stream pipeline 2 from Russia to Germany. Photo: EFE
Moscow, for its part, has clearly indicated that it will carry out this project despite the sanctions announced, which include the freezing of assets and the revocation of US visas for entrepreneurs linked to the pipeline.
The State Department must now communicate the names of companies and interested persons within 60 days.
Half of the project is funded by Gazprom and the other by five European companies (OMV, Wintershall Dea, Engie, Uniper and Shell).
Since its inception, many obstacles have stood in the way of this project.
Nord Stream 2 only obtained the green light of Denmark at the end of October to cross its waters, which will probably delay its entry into service, initially scheduled for the end of 2019.
One of the main targets is Allseas, based in Switzerland and hired by the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to build the section on the high seas.
After the signing of the sanctions, Allseas announced in a statement the suspension of work.
Gazprom's power is at the center of the United States' concerns about the pipeline, and also of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Trump Republican ally, said stopping Nord Stream 2 should be an important security priority for the United States and Europe alike.
"It is much better for Europe to depend on the energy of the United States than to feed Putin and Russia and depend on Russia and be subject to economic blackmail," he said in the Senate last week.
However, Senator Rand Paul, another Republican, voted against the bill, objecting to his attempt to "sanction NATO allies and possibly US energy companies."