The United States will continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as it undermines Europe’s energy security, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in interview with VOA Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 19.
“We think that it actually undermines Europe’s energy security and obviously does tremendous potential damage to Ukraine, including giving Russia the option to avoid the existing pipeline through Ukraine,” Blinken said.
Blinken also clarified an earlier point made by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who had suggested using the pipeline for leverage against Russia.
“…To Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor’s point: Right now, that pipeline is as much, if not more leveraged, for us as it is for Russia, because … if Russia commits renewed aggression against Ukraine, gas flow through that pipeline is highly, highly improbable,” he said.
“So that’s an interesting factor to see whether it affects Russia’s thinking as it’s deciding what to do.”
The construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was completed on Sept. 10, providing Russia with an extra 55 billion cubic meters of transfer capacity annually. However, the pipeline still needs to be certified by the German authorities, into whose territory it terminates, before it can be used commercially.
Jochen Hohmann, the head of the German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), which carries out the certification of Nord Stream 2, said the decision is unlikely to be made in the first half of 2022.
A previous effort to certify the pipeline fell through when, in contravention of EU law, it was discovered that Nord Stream 2’s parent company was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gazprom. According to EU regulations, the gas transit operator and gas supplier must be two independent entities.
Hohmann pointed out that Germany was waiting for a new company to be created and registered in Germany itself, to operate the German part of the pipeline and receive the Swiss-registered Nord Stream 2 AG’s primary assets.
On Dec. 8, the U.S. House of Representatives revealed the draft National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 bill. It did not contain any changes to current sanction regimes against Russia, nor against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.