U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline contradicts Europe's energy security and the interests of Ukraine.
Speaking at a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of the NATO Foreign Ministers' meetings, Blinken said he was looking forward to seeing German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Brussels on March 23-24.
"And I suspect that the Nord Stream 2 will come up in the conversation. President Biden has been very clear in saying that he believes the pipeline is a bad idea. Bad for Europe, bad for the United States. Ultimately, it's in contradiction to the EU’s own energy security goals. It has the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland, a number of other close partners or Allies. And I'm sure I'll have an opportunity to reiterate that, including the law in the United States which requires us to sanction companies participating in the efforts to complete the pipeline," he said.
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. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with a number of European companies. Ukraine stands against the project as it will most likely strip the country of its gas transit country status, while potential annual revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
The United States is urging European allies and private companies to halt works on Nord Stream 2, and is preparing broader sanctions against the Russian project in the coming weeks.
The U.S. Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act 2021, which provides for new sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2.
On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State notified European companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 of the risk of imposing new sanctions.
On January 18, 2021, the United States warned allies in Europe about its intention to impose sanctions on the Russian ship Fortuna, which is engaged in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
On February 22, 2021, the United States imposed new sanctions on the Russian FORTUNA vessel building Nord Stream 2.
As of February 23, 2021, eighteen European companies at once refused to partake in completing the construction of Nord Stream 2 over fears of U.S. sanctions.
On March 4, 2021, the construction of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters was extended by late September.
On March 14, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said that Europe does not need the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
On March 18, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky branded Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a trap for all countries across Europe.