Nord Stream 2, with but 15-km of undersea pipe laying to go, is back in the news this week with additional U.S. sanctions being imposed on ship Ostap Sheremeta, ship owner JSC Nobility and construction company Konstanta, the State Department said in a report to congressional committees. A copy of the report was seen by Reuters.
In addition, a German court has ruled that the pipeline is not exempt from European Union rules requiring the owners of pipelines to be different from the suppliers of the gas that flows in them to ensure fair competition.
Both the additional sanctions and the German court ruling could seriously impact Russia's ability to complete the pipeline before the end of the year. Reuters has aptly entitled its most recent commentary on Nord Stream 2 as "the difficult birth of Russia's gas link to Germany."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the administration has now sanctioned seven entities and identified 16 of their vessels as blocked property under sanctions laws passed by Congress.
Biden has opposed the pipeline, like the previous two U.S. presidents, because it would bypass Ukraine, putting at risk lucrative gas transit fees and potentially undermining its struggle against Russian aggression.
But in May the U.S. State Department inexplicably waived two sanctions that opponents say would have stopped the project. The measures were on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind the project, and its chief executive, Matthias Warning, a Putin ally.