Biden: Nord Stream 2 sanctions “ counterproductive ”
US President Joe Biden has defended his administration’s decision to lift sanctions against the operator of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
On May 19, the United States Department of Justice recommended that it was in the national interest to waive the application of sanctions against the Swiss registered developer, Nord Stream 2 AG; its managing director, Matthias Warnig; and its corporate officers.
The administration, while remaining opposed to the project, suggested that the additional sanctions could harm the United States’ relations with Germany and other European allies.
“It’s almost completely over,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House on Tuesday.
“Going forward and imposing sanctions now, I think, is counterproductive for our European relations.”
However, the administration last week extended sanctions against 13 Russian-owned ships, including the pipelaying vessel Akademik Cherskiy.
The United States has repeatedly said that Nord Stream 2 poses a threat to European energy security by strengthening Russia’s grip on its gas markets.
Biden’s stance coincides with predictions by some industry analysts that Nord Stream 2 is unlikely to have an immediate effect on Russian gas pipeline deliveries to Europe, where state-controlled Gazprom already holds more. of 30% of the market.
Nord Stream 2 tried unsuccessfully to appeal a decision by the European Commission to limit its annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas to 50% under anti-monopoly regulations in the European Union gas market .
Gazprom is also facing a legal battle with the Polish Office for Competition and Consumer Protection, which ordered the project to be stopped.
In October last year, the Polish watchdog called on five European companies – Germany Uniper and Wintershall Dea, Austria’s OMV, Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell and France’s Engie – to cancel their deals. loans to Nord Stream 2 in exchange for obtaining a 10% stake in the pipeline.
The agency imposed heavy fines on Gazprom and the five companies for ignoring its earlier ruling, applicable to all EU member states, and forming a joint venture to build the pipeline.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel applauded the US decision on the waivers and said she would discuss the project with Biden at the G7 summit in the UK between June 11 and 13, according to Bloomberg.
It is estimated that Nord Stream 2 has less than 70 kilometers of pipeline to install in the Danish maritime sector. The Fortuna pipe-laying vessel settles in German waters after completing work on the pipeline last week.
According to political observers in Moscow, the White House has apparently decided to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin in the hope of easing some long-standing tensions between the countries.
The Kremlin has confirmed that Biden and Putin are due to meet in Geneva for talks on June 16.