- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

At a summit filled with happy talk on the improving state of U.S.-European relations under President Biden, the nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline supplying Russian natural gas directly to Germany remains a transatlantic sticking point.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, talking to reporters near the end of a two-day gathering of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels Wednesday, said Washington remains on course to issue sanctions if the German government proceeds with the $11 billion project with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

U.S. officials, backed by a number of Eastern European states, warn the pipeline could give the Kremlin dangerous leverage over German and European energy markets, while undercutting the role of key allies like Ukraine in transporting Russian oil and gas to the West.

“President Biden has been very clear for a long time in his view that Nord Stream 2 is a bad idea,” Mr. Blinken said, adding he made it clear to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas while in Brussels that “firms engaged in pipeline construction risk U.S. sanctions.”

While saying the U.S. and Germany are close allies who can work together on many other issues, Mr. Blinken said that Nord Stream 2 “divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and Central Europe to Russian manipulation and coercion, [and] it goes against Europe’s own stated security goals.”

The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed ahead with the project in the face of U.S. protests, recently floating a proposal to include a “kill switch” to shut down the pipeline if Russia tried to use it for political advantage. Mr. Blinken did not address that idea in his remarks Wednesday.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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