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US threats to German companies have nothing to do with free trade rules

January 18/ 08:10

Berlin. US threats to impose sanctions on companies taking part in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to deliver Russian gas to Europe bypassing transit nations are inadmissible and have nothing to do with free trade, Russia’s Ambassador to Germany Sergei Nechayev has told the DPA news agency.

"We view such actions as inadmissible means of pressure that have nothing in common with the international law and the free and fair trade," he said.

The ambassador added that Washington has been using "unfair methods that contradict market principles" to secure its deliveries of liquefied natural gas to Europe.

According to Nechayev, Russia "would be capable of finishing the project on its own" if German companies quit the project, and has sufficient financial resources to do so.

"However, we oppose radical measures," he said. "Let me speak about those threats once again: no matter who voices them, the choice of threats, in our view, cannot be considered an efficient method neither in politics nor in economy."

The ambassador also refuted claims that Russia would allegedly stop transiting gas via Ukraine once Nord Stream 2 is launched. He said the Ukrainian transit will continue "if it makes sense from the economic point of view."

"Russia has never used gas deliveries as an "energy weapon" and has no plans to do so in the future," he added.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told DPA on Thursday that "no one can stop" the project, adding that although US sanctions may force German companies to quit the project, Russia is capable of completing the construction on its own, informs TASS.

"This [US sanctions] cannot stop the implementation of the project," the minister said, adding that in this case, no one will be able to influence Russia’s decisions regarding the transit of Russian gas via Ukraine.

Commenting on the US ambassador’s letters, threatening German companies with American sanctions, Maas said it was out of the US diplomat’s sphere of competence to tell diplomats what they must do.

Nord Stream 2 AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom, is the project’s operator. Gazprom’s partners - Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and Royal Dutch Shell (the UK Britain and the Netherlands) are to finance 50% of the project.

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