Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Companies withdraw after threats from the USA


Dhe threats of sanctions by the United States against the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 are having an effect: After considerable pressure from the government in Washington, at least 18 European companies have now ended their participation in the controversial project or have promised to withdraw, according to a report by the American State Department to Congress. According to the information, the companies also include the industrial service provider Bilfinger from Mannheim and the Munich Re insurer Munich Re Syndicate Limited.

So far, the United States has only imposed sanctions against the Russian company KVT-RUS, which operates the Fortuna laying ship, for Nord Stream 2 – the government of Republican President Donald Trump announced these punitive measures shortly before the end of its term in office in January. The company and the ship are also specifically mentioned in the new report. Contrary to expectations, other companies are not punished or threatened with punitive measures.

Republicans had therefore sharply criticized the government of the new Democratic President Joe Biden. Senator Ted Cruz said over the weekend: “The Biden administration signals that it is ready to allow the pipeline to be completed, with catastrophic consequences for American national security and the energy security of our European allies.” The US State Department transmitted the Report to Congress last Friday, but has not yet made it public. The report was available to the dpa in Washington on Monday.

Insurance companies are backing down

Most of the companies that have ended or are ending their participation in Nord Stream 2 are insurance groups, according to the report. Most of these companies are based in the UK. The Swiss Zurich Insurance Group and the Axa Group, based in Paris, have also ended their work on Nord Stream 2, according to the US Department of State.

In the report signed by Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, the attitude of the Federal Government is explicitly mentioned. “The German government is still fully behind the Nord Stream 2 project,” it says there. The federal government emphasizes that it is a necessary economic project. “Germany firmly rejects American sanctions as an attack on the sovereignty of Germany and the EU.”

The United States are storming the project because they fear that their partners in Europe are too dependent on Russia. At the end of 2019, construction on the pipeline was halted shortly before completion after the United States enacted an initial sanctions law (Peesa) against the special ships that laid the pipes. Critics argue that the United States would rather sell its own gas in Europe.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that the government had already made it clear that it considered Nord Stream 2 a “bad deal” and that companies risked sanctions if they were involved. Biden will consult with the European partners on this.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has proposed a construction freeze on Nord Stream 2 until the Russian parliamentary elections. “Let’s give Vladimir Putin the opportunity to hold a free State Duma election this autumn with the participation of the opposition. Until then, let’s stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, ”he was quoted in a communication from the Foreign Office in Vilnius after the EU foreign ministers’ meeting. Lithuania, like the United States and some EU countries, is against the pipeline.



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