Germany, U.S. Threaten To Hit Putin's $11Bn Gas Pipeline If Russia Invades Ukraine

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will be targeted by sanctions should there be a Moscow-led invasion of Ukraine, Germany's foreign minister has said.

The $11 billion conduit that would transport gas between Russia and Germany has been a bone of contention both in the U.S. and among EU countries, amid concerns that the continent's energy supply would, to a large extend, depend on the whims of the Kremlin.

Indeed, a number of international lawmakers and commentators have decried the venture as handing a geopolitical weapon to Vladimir Putin.

With over 100,000 Russian troops estimated to have massed by the Ukrainian border, the fate of the 750-mile pipeline (which is yet to start operation), could act as a significant disincentive for Putin to order an incursion into Ukraine.

Annalena Baerbock said Thursday Berlin was working on a "strong package of sanctions" for Russia if there were an incursion into Ukraine, which would include "Nord Stream 2," Agence France Presse reported.

"We want dialogue at all times," she said, according to German media, adding that "the cornerstones of the European peace order are non-negotiable."

Germany's previous government, led by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Nord Stream 2 was a commercial venture, but DW reported that Baerbock opposes the pipeline.

Her comments follow a pledge by U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday that the pipeline could be a bargaining chip for the U.S. as it sought a diplomatic route away from the prospect of war.

"It is leverage for us. It is leverage for Germany. It is leverage for the trans-Atlantic community because gas is not flowing," he told NPR.

"To be clear, it is not leverage for Vladimir Putin," he said. "If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward."

President Joe Biden was criticized last year for striking a deal with Germany to waive sanctions on the company that built the pipeline, which is awaiting regulatory approval.

On Wednesday, Germany's ambassador to the U.S. Emily Haber referred to the agreement made by Washington and Berlin in a tweet, stating that if Russia used energy "as a weapon or if there is another violation of Ukraine's sovereignty, Russia will have to pay a high price."

Germany insists it supports Ukraine in the current crisis and said it would supply a field hospital, but has been criticized for refusing to provide Kyiv with weapons.

Kyiv mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschkoto dismissed as a "joke" an offer by Berlin to send 5,000 helmets.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been at the center of bills introduced by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to punish Russia.

While the Democratic legislation would craft sanctions as a measure against an invasion, a rival bill by Senator Ted Cruz seeks to sanction the pipeline's operators whether there is an incursion or not.

Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian foreign ministry for comment.

Vladimir Putin and Nord Stream 2
The receiving station, the Nord Stream 2 in Lubmin on Germany's Baltic Sea coast is shown on the right in this image from September 2021. Berlin said Russian president Vladimir Putin could be punished by sanctions on the pipeline should he order an invasion of Ukraine. Getty