The United States plans to sanction a Russian vessel as it seeks to stop the completion of a controversial natural gas export pipeline to Europe.
The administration of outgoing President Donald Trump told government officials in Berlin and other European capitals on January 18 that the sanctions on the Fortuna ship would go into effect the following day under existing legislation known as CAATSA.
The sanctions would punish any European company that helps Fortuna complete the Nord Stream 2 project, which is designed to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic seabed.
The United States opposes the project, claiming it would strengthen the Kremlin’s grip on the European energy market while undermining Ukraine’s security and economy.
The pipeline would reroute natural gas destined for Europe around Ukraine, depriving Kyiv of billions of dollars in annual transit fees.
The German government expressed disappointment over the U.S. decision.
"We're taking note of the announcement with regret," an Economy Ministry spokesman in Berlin said.
The United States in December 2019 passed legislation sanctioning any vessel building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, forcing Swiss-based AllSeas to forgo its work on the project with more than 90 percent completed.
Russia is now seeking to finish the project with its own ships, prompting the United States to impose a wider array of sanctions.
The new sanctions will take effect one day before Trump leaves office.
President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to take a tougher stance on Russia than his predecessor, has expressed opposition to the pipeline in the past.
However, he has said he will seek to improve relations with European allies, including Germany.
U.S. To Sanction Russian Vessel Building Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline In Baltic Sea