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13 Jan, 2019 08:37

‘Consider the danger’: US ambassador threatens to sanction German Nord Stream 2 companies

‘Consider the danger’: US ambassador threatens to sanction German Nord Stream 2 companies

A US ambassador has reportedly threatened to punish German contributors involved in the multinational Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, and has tried to fan the ‘Russia scare’ to make his point.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell warned companies based in the country that they may face sanctions from Washington over their participation in the Nord Stream 2 project.

“As you are aware, the United States strongly opposes Nord Stream 2… The pipeline poses serious geopolitical consequences to our European allies and partners,” he wrote in a letter obtained by Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“We continue to stress that firms operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector are engaging in activities that carry significant sanctions risk,” Grenell asserted.

Every German company contributing to Nord Stream 2 should “consider the danger this project represents to European energy security as well as reputational costs and sanctions risk associated with it,” he added.

The Bild report raised the ire of some German politicians in Berlin. Fabio De Masi, a top Left Party MP, demanded that the government reprimand Grenell, saying: “The US Ambassador seems to make an impression that he is a viceroy of the Washington emperor.

Grenell, who took up the post in May 2018, has extensive experience of talking to German businesses. Throughout last year, he pushed the country’s firms to leave Iran – slapped by a fresh set of American sanctions – in the same way that he is now seeking to scupper Nord Stream 2. 

Threats aside, the diplomat used conventional claims about “Russia’s increasingly aggressive behavior.” Moscow, Grenell suggested, uses energy cooperation to garner political and economic leverage. In his view, companies participating in Nord Stream 2 “are actively undermining Ukraine’s and Europe’s security.”

The latter claim seems particularly odd because Grenell, who served as a US spokesman at the UN, has previously found himself in hot water over accusations that he was meddling in the domestic affairs of his host country. Last year, he told the right-wing Breitbart in June that he hoped to “empower” like-minded conservatives across Europe.

Many German politicians, along with reputable media outlets, reacted angrily to the interview. Martin Schulz, a prominent Social Democrat, likened the ambassador to a “far-right colonial officer.” Gerhard Schroeder, a former chancellor, was more colorful, saying: “We can’t accept being treated like an occupied country.”

Also on rt.com US threatens sanctions against Nord Stream 2 contractors as construction goes at full drive

Likewise, Berlin has been defying US attempts to sink Nord Stream 2. “Matters related to the European energy policy must be decided upon in Europe, not in the United States,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated earlier this week.

Construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been recently approved by Germany, Finland and Sweden, with the project set to enter its final stage by the end of 2019. Denmark is the only country that hasn’t authorized the project so far. Smaller EU members, such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Hungary have severely criticized the project.

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