BRUSSELS -- A U.S. diplomat has dismissed the idea that the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline will ever be built.
Speaking to European journalists in a telephone briefing on November 29, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John McCarrick said that U.S. officials "don't see the possibility that Nord Stream 2 can be built."
"That is not something we are going to assume is going to happen," said McCarrick, who works at the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources.
When pressed for details, McCarrick responded that "there is a variety of reasons why it shouldn't happen.... The bottom line is we are against this. We don't see this happening, so why would I entertain any other sort of option or possibility?”
Earlier this year, the United States introduced sanctions that call for penalties against European companies that participate in the Nord Stream 2 and other Russian energy projects in Europe.
If built, the pipeline will run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, bypassing several European transit countries. It is scheduled to be completed by 2019.
Berlin has so far supported the pipeline, which would deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Germany from Russia.
Several EU members in Central and Eastern Europe have expressed concern that the project would strengthen Moscow's hand by increasing European reliance on Russian natural gas.
They have also voiced concern that it would reduce gas-transit revenues for Ukraine, damaging the country's fragile economy at a time when its forces are fighting Russia-backed separatists who control part of two eastern provinces.