The United States is set to waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany.
This was reported by the Axios journalism platform that cites two Biden Administration sources briefed on the decision.
The State Department will also acknowledge the corporate entity in charge of the project — Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, the Putin crony and former East German intelligence officer Matthias Warnig — are engaged in sanctionable activity.
Sources close to the situation say that top Biden officials have determined that the only way to potentially stop the project — which is 95% complete — is to sanction the German end-users of the gas.
"And the Biden administration is not willing to rupture its relationship with Germany over Nord Stream 2," Axios reported.
However, the Biden administration will be sanctioning ships involved in the building of Nord Stream 2.
Nord 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.
- Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom is the founder of Nord Stream 2 AG.
- The project is being financed by European companies – France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany's 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.
- The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has already been completed by more than 90%.
- The United States has imposed a series of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and has repeatedly called on European allies and private companies to stop the related works.
- On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
- Eighteen companies have already refused to participate in the project or are planning to do so because of the sanctions.
- On February 6, 2021, Nord Stream 2 AG announced it would continue to lay the pipes as part of the project.
- On March 14, 2021, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said that Europe did not need the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Despite this, Germany continues to insist on the completion of the project.
- On March 19, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 to immediately halt laying pipes, threatening new sanctions.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a trap for all countries across Europe.
- On April 20, 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ukraine should remain a transit country for Russian gas to Europe, despite Germany's decision to complete the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- In early May, Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany) filed a lawsuit with the Hamburg Administrative Court against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany's exclusive economic zone.