Germany’s foreign minister pledged ongoing support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline Monday amid continued US pressure to stop the controversial project.
“We continue to believe that Nord Stream 2 makes sense in terms of energy policy. Of course, the project cannot be viewed independently of Russia’s behavior,” Heiko Maas told the t-online website.
“But Nord Stream 2 is becoming more and more glorified as a panacea with which one could bring Russia to reason,” he added.
Maas pointed out one could not ignore reality, especially as Europe continues to purchase Russian gas via Ukraine and Turkey and the US is buying oil from Russia on a large scale.
Earlier this month, Washington warned Berlin that it was not willing to compromise in the dispute over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, saying it would use all possible means to stop the construction.
The new administration in Washington is "determined to use all available levers to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2," Joseph Giordono-Scholz, spokesman for the US Embassy in Berlin, said in an interview with the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.
The American diplomat was responding to a question as to what possible incentives the German government could offer to ease the conflict.
Berlin had so far hoped that the new US administration of President Joe Biden would take a more pragmatic approach to the project to ship Russian gas to Europe because it is 95% completed.
Biden is under pressure from the US Congress which is calling for a tougher line to crack down on Nord Stream 2.
Both Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a stop of the pipeline construction, which they consider to be dangerous.
"It is a geopolitical project by Russia that threatens Europe's energy security as well as that of Ukraine and the Eastern NATO partners," said the embassy spokesman.
This judgment is "shared by some of our European partners and even by some serious voices in Germany," he added.
Giordono-Scholz threatened to impose tough sanctions on any firm involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
"We will continue to register any organization that may be involved in any sanctioned activity, and have made it clear that any company risks being penalized for participating in Nord Stream 2," he said.
After more than a year of threatening to do so, the US introduced first sanctions on Jan. 19, former US President Donald Trump’s final full day in office. The administration sanctioned the Russian ship Fortuna, which later resumed pipe-laying in Danish waters on Feb. 6.
The pipeline was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.
By Oliver Towfigh Nia