‘Pipelines aren’t built just to annoy somebody’: Former Austrian FM Karin Kneissl believes Nord Stream 2 will be completed

The joint Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is likely to be completed despite all the obstacles, Austria’s former FM Karin Kneissl believes. Still, the US will try its best to stop it going ahead, she warned.

Commenting on recent remarks by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called for the pipeline project not to be politicized, Kneissl said the German leader was absolutely right. Nord Stream 2’s construction should proceed regardless of the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny or US opposition to the project.

“As I’ve said on various occasions, also to my counterparts when I was still serving as a minister – no one builds a pipeline just to annoy somebody. A pipeline is built because there’s demand,” Kneissl told RT.

While construction works have been disrupted by US sanctions, the pipeline is still likely to be completed, Austria’s former top diplomat believes. However, actually launching it might be even harder.

My gut feeling… is that the pipeline will be completed. But the opposition by the US government will be very strong not to fill it, not to go online.

Companies involved in the pipeline construction have been repeatedly targeted by US sanctions over the project, but Washington may try other, even dirtier tricks. For instance, it could hit Germany where it hurts the most – the country’s automobile industry, Kneissl suggested.

“It could be, eventually, that the US government puts Germany in front of the option to either abandon Nord Stream 2 or [they would] rethink the automobile import tariffs of 25 percent for the German car industry,” she said. “And it’s not the entire European car industry that will be so much hit by potential import tariffs by the US government, it will be in particular the German car industry because it’s export-oriented.”

At the same time, the US does not seem to have much to offer Germany – except for threats – to push it into abandoning the pipeline. The repeatedly recycled promises of supplying Europe with the US-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG), which has been officially referred to as “freedom gas,” now look even less realistic than before.

“Now, we’re in a completely different situation than we were two years ago. The North American shale industry, whether it’s oil, whether it’s gas, is suffering tremendously from the low price levels,” Kneissl said.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is expected to boost the supply of Russian natural gas to Germany and the wider European market by some 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, is nearing completion in the waters of the Baltic Sea. Construction has been stalled in recent months after a Swiss pipelaying company withdrew from the project over the threat of US sanctions.

Russia had to dispatch its own vessels to lay the last few kilometers of the pipe, but this endeavor also came under fire from Washington. Any companies or entities that provide certification, insurance or port services for the pipelaying vessels involved in the project are at risk of US restrictions.

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