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US expands draconian sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

US expands draconian sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
The US House of Representatives on Tuesday approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, setting out the imposition of new sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The move comes despite Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell’s statement last week that the European Union opposes the use of sanctions by third countries against “European companies carrying out legitimate business.”

Referring to the Nord Stream 2 project, Borrell expressed concerns about the effect of Washington’s growing use or threat of sanctions on European companies and interests. The statement came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US’ plans to sanction the firms working on Nord Stream 2 under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Moscow rejected the new sanctions as a form of “political pressure” aimed at “ensuring unfair competition,” with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying, “This is an indicator of the weakness of the American system. Apart from strong-arm tactics, they do not have any other effective tools.”

Last month, US senators introduced new retroactive sanctions targeting Nord Stream 2. They extend the scope of penalties levied against all companies that provide certification, insurance, and port facilities for pipe-laying vessels related to the project.

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The Nord Stream 2 project, meant to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe, came to a standstill at the end of 2019. At the time, the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying firm Allseas withdrew its vessels from the area, citing the threat of similar US sanctions and forcing Russia to finish the last remaining stretch of the pipeline on its own.

Apart from Russia’s energy major Gazprom, five European companies are involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2. Those are France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV, the UK-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall.

Also on rt.com ‘Unfair competition’: Moscow blasts US move to enable sanctioning of Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines

When completed, the pipeline will be capable of transiting up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Russia to Germany, thereby doubling the capacity of the existing Nord Stream network.

The US has long opposed Nord Stream 2, claiming it would grant Moscow political leverage over Europe by increasing the latter’s dependency on Russian gas. Washington has been actively lobbying European countries to buy its pricier liquefied natural gas instead of Russian pipeline gas, calling it “freedom gas.”

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