The United States is urging European allies and private companies to halt work that could help build the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and is preparing wider sanctions on the Russian project in coming weeks, senior Trump administration officials said on Wednesday.
The outgoing Trump administration is readying a fresh round of congressionally mandated sanctions "in the very near future" that it believes could deal a fatal blow to the Russia-to-Germany project led by state gas company Gazprom, three officials said, as reported by Reuters.
"We've been getting body blow on body blow to this, and now we're in the process of driving a stake through the project heart," said one of the officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
The officials declined to identify which entities could face sanctions for the previously unreported work, but said they were not targeting specific governments or government officials.
Several European entities were involved, but some were "unwitting" of the implications for the pipeline, said one official, adding they could still escape sanctions if they made "a good faith effort to unwind their involvement."
Read alsoRussia's Nord Stream 2 never be launched with new U.S. sanctions – U. S. SenatorNord Stream 2: Background
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald. This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with European companies – ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall. Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
On July 15, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the participants in the Nord Stream 2 project would fall under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA.
On July 16, the U.S. recommended that investment companies reconsider their participation in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
On July 23, the U.S. Senate approved the draft National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which, among other things, contains additional sanctions against the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry welcomed the United States' readiness to impose sanctions on investment companies involved in the completion of the project.
Norway's risk management and quality assurance firm DNV GL has suspended work on Nord Stream 2 on fears of being sanctioned by the United States.