Ukraine has welcomed expected U.S. sanctions on the Russian Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline as"good news," while Germany, the main beneficiary of the project, has rejected the move as "foreign interference."
U.S. Senate and House committees agreed on December 9 to include a bill placing sanctions on Nord Stream 2 in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), putting up a potential roadblock to the project's completion.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will have the capacity to carry up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia to Germany along the Baltic Sea floor. The pipeline is more than 80 percent built and is expected to be completed early next year.
“Ukraine is grateful for 337 votes to support sanctions related to #NordStream2 construction. This is a political project that undermines energy security of #Europe,” the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk also welcomed the move as "good news." The sanctions should "dramatically complicate construction of the Russian pipe," he said.
Kyiv has long protested the project and has lobbied Washington to pass the bill as the pipeline would deprive the country of more than $2 billion in transit fees.
Ukraine also sees the pipeline as undermining existing economic sanctions imposed by the West to compel Russia to resolve a conflict in eastern Ukraine and end its occupation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
Germany, however, reacted with irritation, with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas calling the U.S. move "foreign interference."
"Decisions on European Energy Policy are taken in Europe," Maas tweeted on December 12. "We reject foreign interference and, as matter of principle, extraterritorial sanctions."
The House and Senate are expected to vote later this month on the NDAA, which often becomes a vehicle for a range of policy initiatives as it's one of only a few pieces of major legislation that Congress approves each year.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, has said that only a few companies in the world have the technology to lay deep-sea pipelines and none of them are Russian, meaning the Kremlin could struggle to complete the project should the foreign companies obey the U.S. sanctions bill.
The United States has sought to stop pipelines designed to carry Russian energy to Europe in the past but failed each time.