WSJ: US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 companies imminent

According to unnamed sources in Washington DC the US is preparing to impose sanctions on EU firms that help finance Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany.

We are against Nord Stream 2: Polish and Lithuanian presidents

Polish President Andrzej Duda and his Lithuanian counterpart Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday that they both oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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Any sanctions would also apply to the companies involved in laying pipes for the gas link in the Baltic Sea, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The German-Russian pipeline project is a bone of contention between Berlin and Washington. “After years of diplomatic efforts to persuade consecutive German governments to bury the project, Washington is preparing to enact sanctions against the pipeline," reports the WSJ.

It quotes a US security official as saying that President Donald Trump saw Nord Stream 2 as incompatible with the military shield America maintains over Europe. The official said Trump's thinking could be summed up in the following way: "If you want us to protect you from the beast, why are you feeding it?”

Nord Stream 2 sanctions could be implemented by amending existing measures against Russia, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which Congress adopted in mid-2017.

The US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in March last year that the US government opposed Nord Stream 2 as the project would undermine Europe’s energy security and stability. She told a news conference at the time that companies engaged in the construction and financing of the pipeline “could expose themselves to sanctions” under a US federal law known as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The US House of Representatives in December passed a non-binding resolution voicing opposition to the new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, an energy project that is opposed by Poland. The bipartisan bill described the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline as a "drastic step backwards for European energy security and the United States’ interests."

The 1,200-kilometre Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is scheduled for completion in 2019, is expected to supply around 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, circumventing Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine. It has been contested within the EU for breaking energy solidarity.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in May that Nord Stream 2 was “a new hybrid weapon” aimed at the European Union and NATO. Polish President Andrzej Duda said in October that the construction of the pipeline, despite a lack of approval from all EU members, showed a lack of solidarity within the bloc.

Poland has made no secret of the fact that it hoped the US would decide to impose sanctions on the companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project. Poland has been cited by President Trump as an example of a country that is serious about its energy security via plans to diversify its energy supplies. One of the sources of that diversification is the purchase of LNG from the US.

The US President Donald Trump in July last year hit out at Germany for supporting the construction of Nord Stream 2, despite opposition from some other European countries, including Poland. A US diplomat was in December cited as saying that Russia was seeking to increase its power in Europe and its grip over Ukraine with the new gas pipeline to Germany. If Nord Stream 2 is completed, Ukraine could lose billions of dollars in transit charges, Reuters said.