Moscow may use gas pipe to spy on West, US warns

Pauline Gross
May 18, 2018

Sandra Oudkirk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy, said at a meeting with reporters in Germany that companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline may be subject to U.S. sanctions.

The United States is opposed to the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project because it would increase Moscow's influence in Europe.

A consortium of western companies and Russia's Gazprom said this week it was starting preparatory work off Germany's Baltic coast. Washington warned that the project to double the amount of Russian gas exported to Germany could trigger a new set of sanctions.

"Any pipeline project - and there are many multiple pipeline projects in the world that are potentially covered by this sanctions authority - is in an elevated position of sanctions risk", Oudkirk said.

"We don't believe guarantees are enforceable", Oudkirk said, stressing that Moscow had clear intentions to use Nord Stream 2 to bypass Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to discuss the gas pipeline project and its possible impact on the region with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

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The German government's point man for Russia, Dirk Wiese, said it would continue to look for "islands of cooperation" with Russia, including a continued commitment to the Iranian nuclear accord, despite differences over Ukraine and European Union sanctions.

Jens Mueller, a spokesman for Nord Stream 2, dismissed concerns from the USA and several European countries, saying the new pipeline would merely be one of many sources of natural gas for Europe. "We're neutral on the means of conveyance", Oudkirk said, noting that Europe could get gas from the Caspian Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, Algeria and, eventually, the United States and Australia, reducing its dependence on Russian energy sources. Up to now Turkey received Russian gas transited via Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. It's also anxious the pipeline could open ways for Russian Federation to install undersea surveillance equipment in the Baltic Sea.

Oudkirk brushed aside as "false" the suggestion that the U.S.is opposing the pipeline to ensure the US has Europe as a potential market liquefied natural gas.

In the German Lubmin began the construction of a gas receiving station within the project of the pipeline "Nord stream-2".

It added the national permitting procedures in the other three countries along the route - Russia, Sweden and Denmark - are "proceeding as planned".

Gazprom's Western partners are energy companies Uniper, Wintershall, Engie, Austria's OMV and Anglo-Dutch group Shell.

Other reports by GizPress

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