The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany will not proceed if Russia invades Ukraine, says the US State Department.
Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a vast network of offshore natural gas pipelines in Europe, running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. The project has been a focal point of tensions between Moscow and Washington, with the latter fearing that the pipeline will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy.
Now, as tension has been increasing over Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine, state department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday night that the Biden administration was “working with Germany” to ensure it could withstand the loss of the pipeline.
“I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” Price told National Public Radio. “I’m not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward.”
The United States claims that Russia has been amassing thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine to attack the country. Moscow has rejected the allegations and said the troop build-up is defensive.
Berlin has already warned Moscow that any new “escalation” of tensions in Ukraine can directly impact the much-anticipated gas pipeline project.
On Thursday, Emily Haber, Germany’s ambassador to Washington, again expressed the same position.
“The US and Germany jointly declared last summer: if Russia uses energy as a weapon or if there is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia will have to pay a high price,” Haber noted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, also made this clear. “Nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2,” Haber said.
The comments came after a day of intense diplomatic activity, with Washington delivering written replies to sweeping Russian security demands and seeking dialogue over Ukraine.
Washington has insisted upon expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into the former Soviet states of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and the nations of the defunct Warsaw Pact, since the Cold War ended. Russia has vowed to counter any such Western attempts and made security demands.
Blinken said that US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan handed over the document in person to The Kremlin on Wednesday that addressed Russia's concerns and raised those of the United States and its allies.
Nord Stream 2 is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia straight to Germany, bypassing the traditional transit route through Ukraine.
The project has faced resistance within the EU, from the US as well as Ukraine on the grounds it increases Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and denies Ukraine transit fees.
Russia says the project could provide relief to the European gas market, which has been grappling with tight supplies and soaring prices, while criticizing the US-led efforts to impede the completion of the pipeline.
Work on the pipeline was suspended in December 2019 after a Swiss company abandoned pipe-laying operations under the pressure of US sanctions. In December 2020, the construction of the gas pipeline was resumed after a year's pause.