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Defiant Russia says US sanctions won’t stop gas pipelines

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at opening a global forum on partnerships between governments and businesses to counter terrorism as part of the Group of Eight (G8) summit. (en.Kremlin.ru/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has insisted that the Nord Stream 2 and Turk Stream gas pipeline projects will be launched despite recently announced U.S. sanctions.

Quoted by the Interfax news agency on December 22, Lavrov also said that Russia planned to respond to the new measures.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill on December 22 that included legislation imposing sanctions on firms laying pipe for Nord Stream 2, which seeks to double gas capacity along the northern Nord Stream pipeline route to Germany.

Berlin has already criticized the U.S. sanctions.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman said Washington was targeting “German and other European companies” in a step that represented “an interference in our internal affairs.”

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz called them “a severe intervention.”

Nord Stream 2 has provoked debate within Europe since the plan’s inception.

An EU spokesman took a cautious line, saying, “As a matter of principle, the EU opposes the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business.”

But many Europeans are wary of Russia’s motives.

“Despite the involvement in the Nord Stream 2 project of companies from some EU countries, this pipeline has never been a European or EU project,” AFP quoted Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski of saying, via PAP news agency. “Instead, it remains an instrument for the realization of Russian economic and, potentially, military policy.”

In other remarks on December 22, Lavrov said Russia was prepared to include the heavy Sarmat missile and the Avangard hypersonic missile if the New START arms treaty with the United States is extended.

Russia is also ready to demonstrate the Sarmat missile to the United States, Interfax cited Lavrov as saying on a talk show on Russian state television.

A separate set of proposed sanctions against Russia — dubbed by one of its sponsors a sanctions bill “from hell” because of its broad and severe reach — over Moscow’s alleged interference in democratic processes abroad as well as its “malign” actions in Syria and aggression against Ukraine was approved by a U.S. Senate committee on December 18 but has not faced a full vote yet.