US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Washington is working with Germany to mitigate the negative effects of completing Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
Blinken also pointed out that those involved in the project could potentially face further penalties, and informed the Senate’s middle committee on Aug.
In addition, the waivers granted to the pipeline oversight company and its CEO can be “withdrawn at any time,” Blinken said.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea will bring Russian gas directly to Germany, avoiding land routes through Ukraine, Belarus and other countries. In addition, Ukraine and other countries will be deprived of billions in transit fees.
Critics said it would increase Germany’s dependence on Russian energy supplies and make Berlin more vulnerable to Russian influence.
The Foreign Ministry announced last month that it would not sanction the Russian operator of the pipeline, Nord Stream 2 AG, or its CEO Matthias Warnig, who is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Blinken said the main question for the Foreign Ministry now is what is most effective in serving the interests of Ukraine and other affected countries.
He said the worst, in his opinion, was “poisoning the well” with Germany and removing all incentives for Germany to work with the United States to try to mitigate the damage caused by putting the pipeline into operation.
Blinken told the committee that working with Germany, which has refused to stop the project on the grounds that it is a commercial endeavor and a sovereign matter, is a productive approach.
“We want to ensure that Europeans take the necessary steps to protect, mitigate and manage the negative effects of the gas flow through this pipeline,” he said.
The United States is also working with Germany to ensure that “we make Ukraine whole” to lose transit fees and to ensure that “Russia cannot use gas as a coercive measure when it comes to Ukraine or any other” .
He said the Biden government continued to believe the pipeline was “a bad idea” but had to face the reality that the pipeline is now about 95 percent complete.
He also noted that the government sanctioned 13 Russian ships and four companies involved in the construction of the pipeline last month, saying there was a difference between “physically completing the pipeline and putting it into operation”.
With coverage from Reuters