Germany’s foreign minister said Wednesday the United States was waiving sanctions against the company in charge of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, welcoming it as a conciliatory step.
“There is a presidential waiver for Nord Stream 2 AG and the chief executive officer, who is a German national,” said Heiko Maas, confirming media reports on the move.
“We see (this) as a step taken towards us, as we have already spoken informally in the last months about how things could develop further with regard to Nord Stream 2,” he added.
Washington has not confirmed the sanctions waiver.
But news website Axios said, quoting unnamed sources, that the State Department will in a report call for sanctions to be lifted against the Nord Stream company and its chief executive because of US national interests.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also welcomed the possible US move, saying: “It’s better than reading announcements of new sanctions, it would certainly be positive.”
Maas said: “We understand the decisions that have been taken in Washington as taking into account the really extraordinarily good relationship that have been built with the Biden administration.”
The apparent shift came just two months after Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned entities involved in the construction of the pipeline to immediately disengage.
Germany has long irked allies with its stubborn defense of the Nord Stream 2 project which is set to double Russian national gas shipments to Europe’s biggest economy.
According to Maas, the US State Department will continue to seek sanctions against other more minor entities and Russian ships involved in laying the pipeline.
The discussions with Washington continue on “particularly problematic elements of the project,” he added.
The United States and several European countries fear the pipeline would increase German and EU dependence on Russia for critical gas supplies.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has argued that the 10-billion-euro ($12-billion) pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea ensures a more stable and cleaner source of energy as Germany pivots away from coal and nuclear power.
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