German official slaps US sanctions bill

Concern about the planned Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has elicited new German opposition to the possibility of expanded US sanctions against Russia.

Concern about the planned Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has elicited new German opposition to the possibility of expanded US sanctions against Russia.

Brigitte Zypries, Germany’s economic minister, called for European Union resistance to the move in an interview with the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper network reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

She said sanctions against European companies supporting Nord Stream 2 would damage the economies and energy security of European countries and violate international law.

The twin pipeline is to carry Russian gas 745 miles across the Baltic to Germany and other European destinations. It has raised concerns in Europe, the US, and elsewhere about increased European reliance on gas from Russia (OGJ Online, Apr. 4, 2016).

Five European companies have agreed to finance half the project, the sole shareholder of which is Russia’s Gazprom (OGJ Online, Apr. 25, 2017).

New sanctions on Russia, including restrictions on investments in export pipelines, are part of legislation passed by the US Congress targeting Iran and North Korea as well (OGJ Online, July 28, 2017). Whether President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law is unclear.

“The Americans can’t punish German companies because they have business interests in another country,” Zypries said.

Her comments echoed an earlier warning by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that Germany won’t tolerate US moves against European countries involved in Nord Stream 2.

European Commission Pres. Jean-Claude Juncker has promised prompt European retaliation against sanctions targeting European companies.

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