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U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has sent a letter to several German companies, warning them that they could face sanctions if they continue to work on the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Germany is the end-point of the highly controversial Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which will follow the existing Nord Stream natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea. The U.S. opposes the project, as do EU institutions and some EU members such as Poland and Lithuania. Germany, however, supports Nord Stream 2 and sees the project as a private commercial venture that will help it to meet rising natural gas demand.
Several European companies—ENGIE, OMV, Shell, as well as Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall—are partners of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom in the Nord Stream 2 project.
Germany’s mass-circulation newspaper Bild am Sonntag first reported that Ambassador Grenell had sent letters to German companies warning them of potential sanctions, and used wording such as “Grennel was trying to blackmail” the German firms.
Speaking to Reuters, the spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin said that “The only thing that could be considered blackmail in this situation would be the Kremlin having leverage over future gas supplies.”
The letter of the Ambassador, which had been coordinated by U.S. government agencies in Washington, “is not meant to be a threat but a clear message of U.S. policy”, the U.S. Embassy spokesman told Reuters.
“The letter reminds that any company operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector is in danger under CAATSA of U.S. sanctions,” the spokesman said.
The news of the letter irritated many German diplomats and politicians, some of whom have always insisted that the U.S. shouldn’t meddle in Germany’s affairs.
Before news of the U.S. Ambassador’s letter broke, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last week that sanctions against Nord Stream 2 would be the wrong way to solve the energy supply disputes and issues. According to Maas, European energy policy issues should be decided in Europe, not in the United States.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.