Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Nord Stream 2: At least 18 companies are withdrawing from construction


The German dpa agency reports that at least 18 European companies have withdrawn or undertook to withdraw from the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in fear of US sanctions, according to a report by the US State Department. There are also German companies among them.

The State Department’s report to Congress shows that the companies that terminated their participation in the project or announced they would do so include the industrial service provider Bilfinger from Mannheim and the insurer Munich Re Syndicate Limited.

So far, the United States has imposed sanctions only on the Russian company KWT-Rus, which operates the Fortuna barge, which participates in the construction of the pipeline, due to Nord Stream 2. The company and vessel are also listed in the new report. Contrary to expectations, other companies are not facing any penalties for the time being.

That’s why Republicans sharply criticized the administration of the new US Democratic President, Joe Biden. Senator Ted Cruz said over the weekend: “The Biden administration is signaling that it is ready to allow the pipeline to be completed with disastrous consequences for America’s national security and the energy security of our European allies.” The US State Department released a report to Congress last Friday, but has yet to make it public. The dpa agency reached the content of the report. Earlier, he wrote about Wall Street Journal.

The report shows that most of the companies that end their participation in Nord Stream 2 are insurance groups. Most of them are based in Great Britain. The Swiss Insurance Group and the Paris-based Axa Group have also completed work on Nord Stream 2, according to the Department of State.

The report, signed by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, clearly refers to the attitude of the German government. As noted, “the German government continues to fully support the Nord Stream 2 project” and “firmly rejects the US sanctions as an attack on the sovereignty of Germany and the EU.” In the opinion of the authorities in Berlin, Nord Stream 2 is a necessary economic project.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that many companies withdrew from the project demonstrating that the government’s actions were paying off. He stressed that the United States maintained threats of sanctions. “We made it clear that companies risk sanctions if they are involved in Nord Stream 2,” he added, stating that the US would continue to consult with its allies and would not surprise them with unannounced actions.

The United States is opposed to the gas pipeline because it is concerned that its European partners are too dependent on Russia. In late 2019, construction work on the pipeline was halted shortly before completion after the United States passed preliminary sanctioning laws against special ships that lay pipes. Critics of the US conduct say the US wants to sell its own gas in Europe.

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Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis has proposed to suspend the construction of Nord Stream 2 until the parliamentary elections in Russia, which are to be held in September. “Let (the Russian president) Vladimir Putin hold free elections to the State Duma with the participation of the opposition in the fall. Until then, let’s stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline,” wrote a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vilnius after the meeting of EU foreign ministers. Lithuania, like the US and some EU countries, including Poland, opposes the gas pipeline.





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