Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- in his first call with newly confirmed Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas questioned US sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The project is about 90 percent complete and has long been opposed in Washington since it will expand the trade relationship between some of its European allies and Russia. The US has opposed all pipelines between Russia and the rest of Europe since the 1980s and the Soviet era. But at the same time has been happy to trade with Russia when convenient. In 2020 US imports from Russia were over 15 billion dollars including ironically Russian Gas on occasion.

Last week, in one of his administration’s final foreign policy moves, President Trump hit a Russian pipe-laying ship that was working on the Nord Stream 2 with sanctions. The US has also threatened the small port of Mukran. “I think that overall we have to consider in transatlantic relations whether it makes so much sense to impose punitive tariffs or sanctions on each other,” German Foreign Minister told Reuters after his call with Blinken. “We want to talk to the United States about it, but our position on this issue has not changed in principle.”

In fact, recently, the German government has shown considerable indecision but has now allowed work on the pipeline to resume on the last phase in Danish waters.

The US opposes the pipeline in part because it bypasses cash strapped Ukraine, and Ukraine’s energy sector will eventually lose profits from transportation fees. In 2017, Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz hired a lobbying firm to fight the pipeline in Washington.

Despite his issues with the sanctions, Maas seemed pleased with his conversation with Blinken and the change of administrations in Washington. “I have to get used to the fact that I talk to my American colleague on the phone and we agree on almost all points. This has not been the case in the past,” Maas said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also spoke with his German counterpart on Wednesday and praised the country for hosting so many US troops. While no orders have been given yet, the Biden administration is expected not to follow through with a planned troop drawdown in Germany that was ordered by President Trump.

The Nord Stream 2 is a natural gas pipeline project that will connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic. The original Nord Stream consists of two lines that run from Vyborg, Russia, to Lubmin, Germany, near Greifswald. The new project will add two more lines, doubling the amount of natural gas Russia can export to Germany and that in turn Germany can re-export to its neighbors.

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