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US Senators Threaten German Port With ‘Crushing’ Sanctions Over Russian Pipelaying Vessels

The Russians can complete Nord Stream 2 but they still have to dock somewhere

Three US senators are threatening the operators of a small German port with “crushing legal and economic sanctions” for provisioning Russian vessels assisting with constructing the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.

The US strongly opposes the pipeline, which is owned by Russian gas company Gazprom and will carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

In their letter, Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson accuse port operator Faehrhafen Sassnitz of “knowingly providing significant goods, services, and support” for the project.

‘Completely outrageous’

On Friday, German Minister of State Niels Annen said Germany “firmly rejected” the proposed sanctions, adding the tone and content of the letter were “completely outrageous.”

“Threatening a close friend and ally with sanctions, and using that kind of language, will not work,” Annen told German public broadcaster ZDF.

“European energy policy will be decided in Brussels, and not in Washington DC,” he said.

Don’t ‘dip’ that pipe

Murkan Port, located in the small seaside town Sassnitz on Baltic Sea island of Rugen, now finds itself at the center of a geopolitical showdown between Russia and the US.

Along with storing sections of pipe, the port serves as a logistic and service center for ships constructing the German end of the pipeline. 

These include the Russian-flagged vessels “Fortuna” and “Akademik Cherskiy,” which have yet to begin their work, but will become sanctionable, ” the instant that either vessel dips a pipe into the water to construct the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” according to the letter.

‘Fatal measures’

The US argues that the pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia, which both Berlin and Moscow dispute. The US proposes selling European’s American natural gas shipped across the Atlantic as an alternative.

The senators said the letter served as “formal legal notice,” and demanded that Faehrhafen Sassnitz, which is owned by the town of Sassnitz and the state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, “cease activities” supporting the construction of the pipeline, or face “potentially fatal measures” that will cut the port’s commercial and financial ties with the US.

In December 2019, Washington passed the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act, targeting companies working on Nord Stream 2.

Switzerland-based pipeline manufacturer Allseas ceased its work on the pipeline after the act was passed, delaying construction off the German coastline.

However, the Nord Stream 2 is nearly finished. Only around 160 kilometers remains out of the planned 1,220-kilometer-long twin pipeline.

The majority of this is in Danish territorial waters, and a small part in German waters.  The pipe is planned to reach German soil at Lubmin, nearly 40 kilometers by sea from Sassnitz.

Source: Deutsche Welle

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