The German government has no legal basis to interfere in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said as he hit back at critics of the Russian-led gas project.
In an interview published Sunday, Altmaier stressed that Nord Stream 2 meets all legal criteria, including permissions to build the pipeline from various agencies of many countries.
“Moreover, serious progress has been made in the construction works, with kilometers of pipes laid in the sea. The federal government will not interfere into such process as it has no legal grounds for that,” the minister told the local Handelsblatt newspaper.
The implementation of Nord Stream 2, a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom in close partnership with European energy majors, has long come under harsh criticism from the US. Washington claims the pipeline will make Europe too dependent on Russian gas and even hinted that it may sanction companies contributing to the project.
Altmaier says Nord Stream 2 “is the wrong whipping boy” and hopes that a compromise will be found.
The pipeline was also slammed by Ukraine, which fears that it would deprive its budget of transit fees as Nord Stream 2 bypasses it. Berlin and Moscow have repeatedly assured Kiev that gas transit through Ukraine to Europe will be maintained. In his Sunday interview, the German minister reiterated that it will continue after 2019, when the project is set to be finished.
The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 twin pipeline is to stretch 1,200 kilometers along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian natural gas to European consumers. It will run roughly parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline and is expected to double the pipeline’s capacity to 110 billion cubic meters per year.
Earlier in January, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell warnedGerman companies against contributing to the project, saying they may face sanctions. The statement was rebuked by various German and Russian politicians.
Supply of Russian gas is vital for Europe and moving away from it would have grave economic consequences, geopolitical expert Dr. Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann told RT.
“We cannot abandon the import of Russian gas, this will be economic suicide. So, the Americans also have a limit of their pressure capacity,” the analyst said. “The more the US puts pressure on Europeans, the more there is a risk that Europeans try to detach themselves from the US and try to make a better deal with Russia.”