Putin and Merkel agree to keep supporting Nord Stream 2 project amid sanctions pressure from Washington
Moscow. President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel have reiterated their support for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, the Kremlin says, as the US seeks to curb the project with sanctions.
“The attitude for further support of the Nord Stream 2 project was confirmed” during a phone call which was initiated by the German side on Sunday, according to a statement on the Kremlin website.
Earlier this month, the US State Department issued an ultimatum to European companies taking part in the project, threatening them with sanctions if they do not cease their work by January 20.
The US' announcement was a shock for Europe and caused a vast outcry in Berlin and Brussels. German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, blasted the sanctions as “a serious interference in the internal affairs of Germany and Europe and their sovereignty.” The European Commission also said that it “strongly rejects” the American crackdown on EU companies, which had all the legal grounds to take part in the pipeline project, told RT.
Swiss-Dutch construction company Allseas fell for the American intimidation and halted operations in the Baltic Sea. However, Russia confirmed it will be able to complete the pipeline on its own by the end of 2020. The US has been vigorously opposing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as it will provide cheaper gas to European customers than American liquefied natural gas - which it calls “molecules of freedom” - and it increases the EU’s dependence on Russia. Ukraine and Poland have fully sided with Washington in rejecting the project as it may deprive them of billions of dollars in transit fees, which they have been receiving from Moscow for decades.