The Kremlin on Tuesday (23 November) said new sanctions imposed by the United States in connection with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline were illegal and wrong, especially at a time when Moscow and Washington are attempting to rebuild dialogue.
The United States on Monday imposed further sanctions in connection with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, targeting Russia-linked Transadria Ltd. and its vessel.
“Today’s report is in line with the United States’ continuing opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the US Government’s continued compliance with PEESA,” Blinken said in his statement. “With today’s action, the Administration has now sanctioned 8 persons and identified 17 of their vessels as blocked property pursuant to PEESA in connection with Nord Stream 2.”
PEESA stands for ‘Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act’ of 2019, providing the US with the authority to advance its national security and foreign policy objectives, in particular “to address Russian pipeline projects that create risks to US national security, threaten Europe’s energy security, and endanger Europe’s political and economic welfare”.
The State Department submitted a report to the US Congress listing two vessels and an entity, Transadria Ltd., involved in the pipeline, Blinken said, but did not give details on the second vessel.
Washington opposes the $11 billion pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to bypass Ukraine and carry gas from Russia’s Arctic region to Germany.
Nord Stream 2 has faced stiff opposition from the United States and some European states, which say it will make Europe too reliant on Russian gas. But other European governments say the link is vital to secure energy supplies, with gas prices surging in recent weeks and the threat of power outages looming this winter.
The Biden administration has waived sanctions on the pipeline’s operator and reached an agreement with Germany in July over the pipeline.
Biden administration officials say that since the pipeline was essentially complete by the time they came into office, the President waived sanctions against the German companies behind the pipeline’s construction in order to repair the relationship with Berlin. Instead, administration officials said they planned to take other measures.
Germany agreed to take action if Russia uses energy as a weapon in its relations with Ukraine, but the pact did not provide a specific criteria for how that would be judged.
Last week, Germany’s energy regulator temporarily halted the certification process for the new pipeline that will carry Russian gas into Europe, throwing up a new roadblock to the contentious project and driving up regional gas prices. News of the delay sent European gas prices soaring.
“Even as the administration continues to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including via our sanctions, we continue to work with Germany and other allies and partners to reduce the risks posed by the pipeline to Ukraine and frontline NATO and EU countries and to push back against harmful Russian activities, including in the energy sphere,” Blinken said.
Ukraine will lose revenues if gas from Russia bypasses it. But more importantly, if Russia stops relying on Ukraine for its gas exports, the Kremlin could be tempted into new attacks on its neighbour to secure strategic territorial gains in the Black Sea region.
A group of US Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act, or NDAA, a sweeping defence policy bill that the Congress passes every year.