US envoy startles German diplomats threatening Nord Stream 2 firms
US Ambassador Richard Grenell’s letter to German companies, threatening them with "a significant risk of sanctions" over their involvement in the Nord Stream 2 has puzzled the country’s Foreign Ministry, the newspaper Bild reports. This move does not reportedly adhere to diplomatic practices. However, an official statement on the matter has not been made yet.
Local firms involved in the project to build a gas pipeline from Russia to Europe that will divert gas flows away from Ukraine to Germany through the Baltic Sea, reportedly received the letters, picturing a grim future for them if they didn’t leave the project.
"We emphasize that companies involved in Russian energy exports are taking part in something that could prompt a significant risk of sanctions", the message reads, as cited by the paper.
He accused these companies of impacting European energy security, as the US has persistently tried to sway Germany and other stakeholders away from this venture.
"As a result, firms supporting the construction of both pipelines are actively undermining the security of Ukraine and Europe”, the letter said, Sputnik reports.
He also supported the European Parliament resolution, condemning the project.
However, the US Embassy in Berlin defended the letters, saying: "The letter should not be seen as a threat, but as a clear message of US policy".
It’s not the first time, Grenell has warned German businesses against cooperating with Russia. Earlier this year he told German newspaper Handelsblatt that firms participating in the construction are "always in danger because sanctions are always possible"; he also expressed his belief that looming sanctions would force these companies to voluntarily pull out of the project. This statement came amid reports that the White House would primarily levy sanctions on the highly specialised companies laying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on behalf of the operating company, Nord Stream 2 AG. These two contractors are Swiss-based Allseas Group and Italian-based Saipem.
In his vigorous criticism, Grenell echoed US President Donald Trump who has previously slammed Nord Stream 2 as "unfortunate" for Germans but vowed not to be hard on investors in the pipeline.