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US lawmakers want to put a cork in Russia's gas pipeline to Europe

US lawmakers want to put a cork in Russia's gas pipeline to Europe
The US House of Representatives is once again calling on the European Union to ban the Russia-led construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and has called for sanctions against the project.

The resolution was passed by the Republican-led Congress during Monday's session. Echoing US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against the construction of the undersea pipeline, the lawmakers called it “a drastic step backward for European energy security and United States interests.” The House now wants the US president to step in and even impose economic penalties under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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Moscow has repeatedly stressed that all Washington’s attempts to hamper the project are simply driven by economic reasons and are a shining example of unfair competition. Reacting to the latest House motion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there is nothing new in this “unacceptable” position. He added that the project is purely economic and serves not only Russia’s interests as a gas supplier, but Germany as an EU member-country and its consumers in the first place.

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The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline is set to deliver Russian natural gas to European consumers. The pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea and is expected to double the existing pipeline’s capacity to 110 billion cubic meters. The pipeline, controlled by a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, is being built in cooperation with German energy firms Wintershall and Uniper, French multinational Engie, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Austria’s OMV.

Europe seems to be reluctant to ditch the project despite US pressure and criticism. On Monday, Austria's OMV energy group CEO Rayner Zele stated that the company is set to continue financing the pipeline next year. OMV has already invested some 531 million euros ($607 million) into the project, Zele told Ria Novosti.

In early December, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that Berlin’s abandoning the project would not make sense as Russia will still go on with it. Germany earlier rebuked Trump’s criticism of the project after the US leader accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Moscow citing Germany’s alleged dependency on natural gas from Russia.

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