Germany Warns on Legality of New U.S. Nord Stream Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier issued a warning over the legality of fresh U.S. sanctions aimed at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, saying the move may harm cooperation.

Without commenting explicitly on a proposal unveiled this month by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, Altmaier said that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government stands by its opposition to measures that could impact German and European companies.

“The German government has long had the view that sanctions with extraterritorial effects are in conflict with international law and that they’re not a contribution to advancing international cooperation,” Altmaier told reporters in Berlin on Friday. “This position hasn’t changed.”

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The minister, a close Merkel ally, was asked about a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung report that German authorities are concerned U.S. sanctions could ensnare state entities in addition to “significantly” more European companies. The report cited an internal document from Altmaier’s ministry.

Germany Warns on Legality of New U.S. Nord Stream Sanctions

The new U.S. sanctions proposals, which may include service providers for inspections and certifications, could affect “administrative activities of state agencies” tied to the pipeline, FAZ reported, citing the document.

“It would be a novelty for sanctions to target authorities of (friendly) governments,” or the government itself, FAZ cited the document as saying. It is “to be expected that the new sanctions proposals will make significantly more German and European companies targets.”

The U.S. senators’ proposal would expand sanctions against the Gazprom PJSC pipeline by taking aim at insurance companies that work with Russian vessels on completion of the project.

Senator Ted Cruz, one of the lead sponsors of the legislation, said the pipeline poses “a critical threat to America’s national security and must not be completed.” Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to circumvent the sanctions passed by Congress last year, Cruz said in a statement.

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