April 09, 2021

Sanctions Won’t Stop Nord Stream 2. Diplomacy Will.

By Edward Fishman

Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline that would connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, has become a rare thing in today’s Washington: a bipartisan bête noire.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it “a bad deal” and warned that “any entity involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks U.S. sanctions and should immediately abandon work on the pipeline.” Meanwhile, two leading Republican lawmakers wrote a piece in Foreign Policy urging President Joe Biden to “stop dragging his feet” and impose sanctions on “all vessels and companies currently working to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”

With the project around 95 percent complete, time is running short to stop it. But the solution most are pushing for—sanctions—is not the answer. That’s because there are only two players capable of killing Nord Stream 2: the Russian and German governments. As Washington has escalated sanctions against the pipeline, many international companies have backed out.

The solution most are pushing for—sanctions—is not the answer.

If Nord Stream 2 were just a “commercial project,” as Berlin maintains, the risk of U.S. sanctions would have almost definitely halted it by now. But the Russian and German governments have stepped in to keep the project afloat. Russia redeployed a pipe-laying ship, the Akademik Cherskiy, from the Pacific to the Baltic to work on Nord Stream 2, replacing a Swiss vessel. And in Germany, the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the pipeline makes landfall, set up a foundation to shield German contractors from sanctions.

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

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