The U.S. government has officially lifted sanctions against the controversial Baltic Sea pipeline North Stream 2 and its German executive director. In a statement to the US Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrote that the dismissal of the sentence was “in the national interest of the United States.” However, sanctions are being imposed on several Russian spawning vessels and companies. Switzerland’s Nortstream 2AG and its managing director, Matthias Warnick, have been implicated in violating US sanctions, the report said. However, the imposition of punitive measures “will have a negative impact on relations between the United States and Germany, the European Union and other EU allies and partners.”
The report said the lifting of sanctions would allow for diplomatic talks with the German government on the “risks to the completed Nortstream 2 pipeline to Ukraine and European energy security.” Except for Warnick, the exception rule includes the entire management of Nort Stream 2. A subsidiary of the Russian energy company Gasprom, based in the Swiss city of Zhuk, is responsible for the planning, construction and subsequent operation of the pipeline, which is almost complete.
Cross-party criticism in the US Congress
The current decision by the government has met with bipartisan criticism in the US Congress, which passed an embargo against the construction of Nort Stream 2 in 2019. Democrat Bob Menedes, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Biden government should do everything possible to prevent the pipeline from being completed. This includes sanctions against Nortstream 2AG and its managing directors. Republican Senator Jim Rich talks about a “gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mass: “Keep talking to each other creatively”
The U.S. media had already reported on Tuesday that Biden wanted to lift sanctions against Nortstream 2AG. It was welcomed in Berlin: Federal Foreign Minister Haiko Mass (SPD) on Wednesday said the federal government saw this as “an action taken against us”. It is important to “continue to discuss issues with each other as creatively as possible.” The German government is sticking to the nine billion euro pipeline, although it has drawn criticism from other EU countries. Mass said the only problem Germany and the United States had “fundamentally different opinions” was North Stream 2. Now one has to look at “this project will not further burden our best cooperation in any way”. The next three months should be used to re-discuss the complex parts of the plan until the next report to the US State Congress on North Stream 2. Reports are due every 90 days.
Sasnitz Mayor: “Have a nice day”
So the threat of sanctions against Sasnitz port no longer applies. Last summer, U.S. senators threatened to seize control of the port as a base for pipeline construction. The mayor of Sasnitz and port workers also had to expect travel restrictions on the United States.
The mayor of Sasnitz, Frank Crotch (Die Link), spoke with NDR1 Radio MV about a “good day”. “In my view, this is a continuation of the new president’s efforts to improve German-American relations,” he said Wednesday. Crotch described the lifting of sanctions as a good sign for “the city and our ferry port Sasnits-Mukron GmbH”. The city owns 90 percent of the ferry port operations. Sanctions often carry the burden of negotiations with other companies, Crotch said. “It was very difficult and an obstacle in some negotiations. However, fortunately, there were threats from all three senators and no sanctions were implemented.”
Years of dispute over the Baltic Sea pipeline
Has been one of the key points of contention in German-American relations for many years. Washington is definitely against the natural gas pipeline. Like his predecessor Trump, President Biden argues that Germany and Europe are increasingly dependent on Russia. However, in the pipeline controversy, Washington did not want Trump to affect relations with improved Germany again after years.
The extension building is as good as possible
Construction of a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea is largely complete. In German waters, 13.9 km of one line and 16.8 km of the second line are missing. Upon completion, Nortstream 2 is expected to carry 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Russia to Germany. The first two lines between Vyborg in Russia and Lapmin in western Pomerania became operational in 2011.