Kurt Volker, the US special representative for Ukraine, has told a press conference that, while no decision has been made so far, there is an ongoing debate in the United States on whether sanctions should be introduced, Poland’s wpolityce.pl news service reported.
It quoted Volker as saying that potential sanctions would hit European corporations working with the Russians and adding to Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy.
Europe’s 'energy security and stability' at stake
The US State Department spokeswoman said in March that the US government opposed Nord Stream 2 as the project would undermine Europe’s energy security and stability.
Heather Nauert told a news conference at the time that companies engaged in the construction and financing of the pipeline “could expose themselves to sanctions” under a US federal law known as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
At a department press briefing in Washington, Nauert said that “firms that work in the Russian energy export pipeline sector could – if they engage in that kind of business, they could expose themselves to sanctions under CAATSA.”
She added: “As many people know, we oppose the Nord Stream 2 project; the United States Government does. We believe that the Nord Stream 2 project would undermine Europe’s overall energy security and stability.”
Nauert also said that the project -- which would carry gas from Russia to Germany while bypassing Poland and other countries in its region -- would provide Russia with “another tool to pressure European countries,” especially Ukraine.
“We’ve seen that – what Russia has done in the past, when they’ve turned off the pipeline in the middle of winter, causing some families to not have heat ... and we think that that is simply wrong,” she said.
According to reports, work has officially begun to build the German section of the contested gas link.
Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine all oppose the Nord Stream 2 project.
Five Western European energy firms at risk of sanctions?
According to wpolityce.pl, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act could hit five Western European energy companies that have announced plans to pick up half the tab for building the pipeline.
These companies -- ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall -- have decided to lend Russian gas giant Gazprom USD 950 million for the construction of Nord Stream 2 and have recently extended the repayment period until 2035, wpolityce.pl said.
If built, the 1,200-kilometre Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is scheduled for completion in 2019, will supply around 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, circumventing Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine.