The decision by Germany to temporarily suspend the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Europe is a “pretty big deal,” and it will be a permanent move, according to a US official.
“This [pipeline] has been killed for good; this is a pretty big deal,” the official, not speaking for attribution, told Al Arabiya English.
A senior administration official later confirmed the move.
“Nord Stream 2 will not become operational. That’s an $11 billion investment and gas pipeline controlled by Russia that will now go to waste. This decision will relieve Russia’s geostrategic chokehold over Europe through supply of natural gas,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters. “It’s a major turning point in the world’s energy independence from Russia.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin had taken steps to halt the gas pipeline, which is still not operable. These steps include a needed approval that says Nord Stream 2 is in compliance with European regulations for fair competition.
The move comes after the West slammed Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for unilaterally recognizing two Moscow-backed rebel regions in Ukraine on Monday.
US President Joe Biden announced sanctions that prohibit any new investment, trade, and financing by Americans to these areas and more sanctions are expected later Tuesday.
The underwater pipeline from Russia to Germany would provide gas to Europe, bypassing Ukraine.
It’s an invasion
Shortly after Russian troops, so-called peacekeepers, entered eastern Ukraine on Monday, US officials were hesitant about dubbing it an invasion.
Asked about reports of Russian forces entering the Donbass and the possibility of this triggering more sanctions, a senior Biden administration official said that would not be “a new step.”
“I want to take a step back and point out something that may be lost on people who have not been paying attention to this conflict throughout most of the last eight years, which is that Russia has occupied these regions since 2014,” the official said.
But on Tuesday, Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser, said it was an invasion. “We think this is, yes, the beginning of an invasion, Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine,” he said in televised remarks. “An invasion is an invasion, and that is what is under way.”
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