US believes Nord Stream 2 poses intelligence threat, eyes possible sanctions

On 15 May, the US State Department expressed concerns about possible intelligence and military implications of the Nord Stream 2 (NS2), after preparatory work for the pipeline's construction began on the same day. On 17 May, in Berlin, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk stated that NS2 could be subject to American sanctions under legislation adopted in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

US authorities believe that, together with the pipeline, Russia could plant monitoring and listening devices in the Baltic Sea, where the US is working with local actors to build defence cooperation mechanisms. On 27 January 2018, the US has deemed NS2 is undermining Europe's stability, a position shared by Poland who warned that the project could expose Ukraine to further Russian aggression undeterred by the need to preserve transit routes for gas deliveries in the West. Germany's position, undoubtedly influenced by Gazprom's competitive prices as well as benefits to the German economy, is that NS2 poses no threat to Europe's security and that Kiev's concerns could be alleviated by a deal with Russia allowing Ukraine to retain its status as a transit country. Yet, the US has expressed doubts over whether such an arrangement could actually be enforced, as this would depend solely upon Russia's goodwill, itself very much in doubt given relations with Kiev, and the negative record it has in honoring its commitments, starting with the 1994 Budapest memorandum it has violated by waging war against Ukraine. Critics of NS2 argue that Russia could gain a double geopolitical advantage by further increasing Germany's dependency on its natural resources while circumventing and isolating Ukraine.

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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