BERLIN: A company that operates ships laying sections of a new German-Russian pipeline said Saturday that it is suspending those activities after the approval of US legislation threatening sanctions.
President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation passed earlier this week by the Senate that provides for sanctions against companies involved in laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
The US has been an outspoken opponent of the pipeline, which will transport natural gas about 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) from Russia to Germany. Along with eastern European countries that also oppose the project, the US government argues that it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy.
On Saturday, Switzerland-based Allseas, which operates ships laying sections of the undersea pipeline, said in a brief statement that “in anticipation of the enactment of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), Allseas has suspended its Nord Stream 2 pipeclay activities.”
The company will “expect guidance comprising of the necessary regulatory, technical and environmental clarifications from the relevant US authority,” it added.
Construction of the pipeline is already well advanced.
The German government said it regretted the approval of the US legislation.
“The German government rejects such extraterritorial sanctions,” spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in a statement. “They affect German and European companies and constitute an interference in our domestic affairs.”
Demmer said the US measures are “particularly incomprehensible” in view of the fact that Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement in principle Thursday on the future transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine has been one of the countries that opposes Nord Stream 2 because it feared being frozen out as a gas transit country as a result of the pipeline’s construction.
On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear that Germany is not considering retaliation against the US sanctions. She told lawmakers in Berlin: “I see no alternative to conducting talks, though very firm talks, (to show that) we do not approve of this practice.”