The US wants to stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline shortly before completion and, despite Germany's resistance, has imposed sanctions on the companies involved. United States President Donald Trump signed a defense budget package at Andrews Air Force base near Washington on Friday evening. The Sanctions Act against Nord Stream 2 is part of the package - and came into effect with Trump's signature.
The US punitive measures of the "Law for the Protection of Europe's Energy Security" target the operating companies of the highly specialized ships with which the pipes for the pipeline are laid through the Baltic Sea. Washington argues that Germany will move to Moscow depending on the pipeline.
The U.S. government now has 60 days to compile a list of the names of the companies and individuals affected. The USA also imposed sanctions on the TurkStream pipeline, which runs from Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey.
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The US sanctions for Nord Stream 2 could hit Swiss company Allseas in particular. Two prominent US senators asked the offshore pipeline specialist to stop work immediately.
"We understand that the Russian Allseas government is paying a very significant amount of money to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline," said a letter from Republican Senators Ted Cruz - who introduced the Sanctions Act - and Ron Johnson to Allseas- Chief Edward Heerema. However, if the company continues "even for a single day" after signing the US Sanctions Act, it could face "potentially damaging legal and economic sanctions".
The senators pointed out the consequences if Allseas violated the sanctions: Anyone who provided ships for laying the pipes would be punished, the letter said. Persons affected would be banned from entering the United States. Any ownership of Allseas in the United States would be frozen. This would also affect the assets of Allseas USA, based in Houston, Texas, as well as the company's ships that were to sail US territorial waters.
Allseas is temporarily suspending pipeline work
The company then announced early on Saturday morning - "in anticipation of the decision" - on its homepage in a short statement that it would initially suspend the pipeline work. Allseas said that the work would be resumed in accordance with the legislation and expected guidance from the responsible US authority - consisting of necessary regulatory, technical and ecological clarifications.
Before the law was signed, the Kremlin had made it clear that it could not be assumed that the pipeline from Russia to Germany could still be prevented.
Nord Stream 2 is expected to deliver gas from Russia to Germany by bypassing Poland and Ukraine from next year. To date, according to the Nord Stream 2 consortium, more than 2,100 kilometers of the double strand have been laid in the Baltic Sea, around 300 kilometers are still missing. Allseas said last week that there was no speculation about the potential impact of sanctions.
SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich sharply criticized the US sanctions. The US Congress has already significantly interfered with the energy sovereignty of the European Union with its sanction decision, said Mützenich. The immediate entry into force by President Trump is now an additional step that will further burden the transatlantic relationship. "For Trump, the EU and Germany are obviously not allied partners, but vassals who are subject to tribute." Independence is sanctioned. "We will not bow to these extortion methods."