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Blinken Tells Germany U.S. Sanctions Over Nord Stream 2 'Possible'

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives a press briefing at the end of a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on March 24.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, that U.S. sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are a real possibility.

Blinken, speaking in Brussels on March 24 after private talks with Maas the previous day, reiterated U.S. President Joe Biden's concerns about the pipeline from Russia to Germany.

He said he told Maas that companies involved in the project risked U.S. sanctions.

U.S. officials argue that the pipeline, which would transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually directly from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, will make Europe too dependent on Russian energy supplies.

It will also bypass Ukraine, a Western ally, potentially depriving it of valuable transit fees.

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Blinken declined to give more details about his meeting with Maas but said the United States was closely monitoring construction on the pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which is about 95 percent completed, and could be finished by September, according to experts.

Germany is pushing for the pipeline's completion despite sustained U.S. opposition over more than a decade.

So far, Washington has only imposed sanctions on the Russian company KVT-RUS, which operates the pipe-laying vessel Fortuna. These measures were announced by the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump shortly before the end of his term in January.

Blinken last week denounced the pipeline as a "Russian geopolitical project intended to divide Europe and weaken European energy security."

Supporters of the pipeline have long accused the United States of undermining the project in order to increase sales of its liquefied gas in Europe.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa