- Politicians in Berlin have reacted fiercely to a letter from three Republican senators threatening sanctions in a small German port.
- Sens Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson last week threatened the port of Mukran with sanctions for its role in helping Russian ships develop a large gas pipeline in Germany.
- The administration of President Donald Trump opposes the project, called Nord Stream 2, over concerns that Germany is heavily dependent on gas from Russia and that Moscow is expanding its economic influence in Europe.
- The letter threatened to “suppress legal and economic sanctions”; against the port if it did not “stop” helping Russian ships building Nord Stream 2.
- A minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government called the senators’ threat “completely savage”.
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U.S. relations with Germany are under increasing strain as politicians in Berlin reacted angrily to a letter from three Republican senators threatening to “destroy” sanctions against a small port to help Russian ships build a gas pipeline.
Sens.Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson last week wrote to Faehrhafen Sassnitz, operators of the Mukran port in the German coastal city of Sassnitz, threatening to “suppress legal and economic sanctions” if he did not stop helping Russian ships building the Nord Stream 2.
President Donald Trump opposes the pipeline over concerns that Germany is already heavily dependent on Moscow for natural gas that will allow Russia to expand its economic influence in Europe. In 2018, he said he could turn Germany into a “Russian hostage”, according to the BBC.
For this particular dispute with Berlin, he is backed by some Democrats as well as European countries like Poland and Slovakia.
Once completed, Nord Stream 2 is set to be 1,230 kilometers, or 764 miles, transporting natural gas from Russia to northern Germany. It was created to double the capacity of Nord Stream, an existing pipeline built nearly a decade ago, according to The Washington Post.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Nord Stream 2 could open later this year.
The letter, quoted by Deutsche Welle, said port operators “were consciously aware of important goods, services and support” for Russian ships developing the pipeline. The letter told port operators to “cease operations” or face “potentially fatal measures” such as trade ties with the US being severed.
Niels Annen, a state minister at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, called the letter “completely outrageous.”
He told German broadcaster ZDF last Friday: “Threatening a close friend and ally with sanctions, and using that kind of language, will not work … European energy policy will be decided in Brussels, not in Washington, DC “.
Manuela Schwesig, the prime minister-designate of the state where the port is located, described the letter as “blackmail”, while Jürgen Trittin, a prominent Green member in the Bundestag, said it was a “declaration of economic war”, Politico reported on Tuesday.
The port of Mukran, located on the German island of Rügen, preserves sections of the intercontinental pipeline and is a service center for Russian ships building the Nord Stream 2, according to Deutsche Welle.
Cruz and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen last week announced a bill designed to extend sanctions on parties offering assistance with the Nord Stream 2 bill.
Cruz said the Energy Security Clarification Act in Europe, which must be passed by Congress and signed by Trump to become law, “makes it clear that those involved with boats installing the pipeline will face mutilation.” and immediate sanctions, “Reuters reported.
The clash over Nord Stream 2 comes amid growing tension between Washington and Berlin.
Andreas Michaelis, Germany’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, recently told Business Insider that “shortcomings” in Germany’s relations with the US meant that working with the Trump administration had become “not easy”.
“With all the shortcomings in terms of information policy, and the things that are decided without consultation, this ambiguity that has dragged on in the relationship is something that worries us,” he said.
The Merkel government has also reacted angrily to Trump’s recent announcement of plans to withdraw nearly 12,000 US troops from Germany.
Johann Wadephul, a senior figure in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, said last month: “We expect our main ally to act as a model, with orientation and balance – not maximum pressure. You do not treat partners like this. “
Peter Beyer, Germany’s Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation, also said it was “completely unacceptable”.