The day after Putin announced the completion of the first leg of the Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, declaring that essentially Washington's best efforts to halt it via an avalanche of sanctions have been defeated, Germany appears to have seconded his assessment.
German Ambassador to Russia Geza Andreas von Geyr on Saturday in his own statements on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum said that US efforts are illegal, going against international law. As cited in Russian media reports, the ambassador said: "At the moment, important negotiations between the American and German governments are ongoing, which include the topic of Nord Stream 2, but our stance on the matter is clear, and it will not change: we are convinced that the energy security of Europe, as well as European energy policy should be determined by Europeans only, and not by foreigners," he stated confidently.
"As for the sanctions, our position is that such an instrument – extraterritorial sanctions – is not applicable, as it goes against international law", he explained.
There's nothing new in this position of Germany seeing in it a question of European sovereignty over its own energy policy. Both Russian and German sides have remain undeterred in completing the pipeline, yet interestingly it's Washington's position under Biden which appears to have softened and even reversed.
The Biden White House announced last month that it would waive sanctions for the German company overseeing its side of the 745-mile long pipeline project while at the same timing slapping more punitive measures on Russian vessels under Gazprom. Ostensibly an initiative to heal ties with Germany, it was clearly contradictory, as many observed. For example Axios' Jonathan Swan underscored it "sets up a bizarre situation in which the Biden administration will be sanctioning ships involved in the building of Nord Stream 2 but refusing to sanction the actual company in charge of the project."
On the same day that Putin hailed the imminent completion of the project, Sen. Ted Cruz lashed out, charging that Biden's reversal of some of the sanctions assures the pipeline will soon come online...
"Indefensible: The Biden-Putin pipeline is almost complete. RT credits Biden for waiving mandatory sanctions on Russia," Cruz wrote on Twitter.
“it shouldn’t be lost on us that not only does the Nord Stream 2 enrich & strengthen Putin’s hold on power, also, it’s in direct contradiction to Biden’s stated claim that the ‘climate crisis’ is now a major factor in his administration’s foreign policy”https://t.co/dL4ne1GyJE— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 22, 2021
Here's the section of the RT report that Cruz appeared to reference:
US politicians had described the conduit as a "grave threat" to Europe’s "energy security, and American national security." However, critics of Trump’s policy on the pipeline claimed more self-interested motives were at play, and according to Politico, a common refrain in Berlin is that "the Americans don’t care about Russia, they just want to sell us their fracking gas."
Last month, new US President Joe Biden said that he had come to office too late to stop construction on the pipeline and it would be "counterproductive" to sanction allies given that it was close to completion. However, his State Department previously said it would impose measures on "a handful of Russian ships" involved in laying the underwater segments.
Meanwhile, Putin ballparked that it will be "a month or two" till final completion and joining of the two major sections of the pipeline.
Shipping fracking gas ...— Gesine Heller (@dh_a_heller) January 19, 2021
“The Americans don’t care about Russia, they just want to sell us their fracking gas,” goes a common refrain in Berlin, a reference to the U.S. boom in natural gas drawn from shale, a form of exploration frowned upon in Germany on environmental grounds." https://t.co/JbHQzaH5J7
And days ago TASS cited the governor of the Leningrad region, where the pipeline originates, as saying testing will begin as early as next week. At the end of March, Russia's energy giant Gazprom had declared it to be 95% complete.