Jan 27, 2022 - World

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

US State Department spokesman Ned Price holds a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on January 25.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Driving the news: "I want to be very clear: If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward," Price said in his interview with NPR's Ari Shapiro on the Putin-backed project.

  • "I'm not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward."
  • Price noted to Shapiro that Nord Stream 2 was not yet operational, which meant it was "leverage for us" and for Germany. "It is leverage for the trans-Atlantic community because gas is not flowing," he added.

What they're saying: Emily Haber, Germany's ambassador to the U.S., tweeted Wednesday: "The US and Germany jointly declared last summer: if Russia uses energy as a weapon or if there is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia will have to pay a high price."

  • She added that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock "stated clearly: nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2."

The big picture: The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals earlier on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," while warning that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

  • While the U.S. and other European allies have stepped up efforts to provide security assistance and weaponry to Ukraine, Germany has declined to send arms to the country due to a new ban on such exports to conflict zones.
  • President Biden had struck a deal with Germany to waive sanctions on the company that constructed Nord Stream 2, which is fully built but still awaiting regulatory approval.

Between the lines: Germany's previous government, led by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, maintained Nord Stream 2 was a commercial venture and Olaf has referred to it as a "private sector project," but Baerbock "is a known opponent" of the pipeline, DW notes.

Flashback: Senate Democrats sink Ted Cruz's bill to sanction Nord Stream 2

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