The state of US-German relations would have dramatically worsened had the US decided to sanction Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany along with its CEO, according to Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies Natural Gas Research Program on Monday.
Yafimava, asserting that sanctions would not have prevented the completion of the pipeline, told Anadolu Agency that the US decision to waive sanction is “absolutely rational”, and suggests the US has accepted that its construction will be fully completed.
However, she said, “at the same time, the US remains opposed to Nord Stream 2 because of political and commercial reasons, and hence is unlikely completely to cease its efforts to obstruct it."
She anticipates that such obstruction is now more likely to refer to operational rather than the construction stage.
“It could manifest itself in attempting to secure an agreement with Germany under which a capacity restriction could be applied. However, the scope for such restriction would be limited," she said.
The Biden administration on May 19 waived penalties on its ally Germany for the Nord Stream 2 project, the construction of which is now 95% complete.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the act was "in line with our commitment to strengthen our transatlantic relationships as a matter of national security."
The US has tried to block the pipeline, maintaining it poses a threat to Europe's energy security by increasing Russia’s leverage as a key energy supplier to Europe.
The US along with Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland oppose the pipeline, citing its security risk particularly for Ukraine and Poland in bypassing existing gas transit in both countries.
On Friday, Ukraine called on US lawmakers to override some of the sanctions the Biden administration dropped relating to the pipeline, including those that were to be imposed on the Nord Stream 2 AG, the company overseeing the project.
German officials welcomed the sanctions waiver as "a constructive step" from the Biden administration.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the move is "a constructive step".
A day after the US waived penalties German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 20 also welcomed the US decision to drop sanctions against the disputed pipeline.
The 1,200-kilometer-long pipeline, a joint venture between Russia's Gazprom and five European companies, is set to double the current annual 55 billion cubic meter capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline.
After more than a year of threatening to do so, the US first introduced sanctions on Jan. 19, the final full day in office of former US President Donald Trump. The administration sanctioned the Russian ship Fortuna, which later resumed pipelaying in Danish waters on Feb. 6.
The pipeline was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.
By Murat Temizer