Nord Stream
© Nord Stream AG
As the US braces to slap sanctions on European firms building the last leg of the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a senior MP in Berlin argues that formal protests don't work anymore - but a strong response could.

Germany may follow America's lead in foreign policy and defense expenditures, but it is less submissive when it comes to energy security, which is sacrosanct for Europe's economic powerhouse. This week, US lawmakers introduced a bill tightening the chokehold on Germany's flagship energy project it jointly runs with Russia, targeting European companies laying underwater tubes for the much talked-about Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The proposed sanctions package, yet to be approved by the Senate and the president, stipulates asset freezes and revocation of US visas for Nord Stream contractors. And Berlin doesn't much like it.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that European energy policy is made in Europe, not in the US, while Joachim Pfeiffer, a top MP from Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said the looming penalties are "no longer just an unfriendly act by the US but a hostile act towards its allies."

But for other high-ranking politicians, these harshly-worded remarks are toothless. Berlin should target what the US is aggressively pitching as an alternative to Russian energy - namely, its own liquefied natural gas (LNG), Klaus Ernst, chairman of the Bundestag Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy, stated in an interview to RT.

If Washington keeps obstructing the completion of Nord Stream 2, then imposing "punitive tariffs on imports of this gas to Germany" could become a deterrent powerful enough to stop it. Consequently, LNG sales will decline, "and this will make the US think about their behavior."

"It can't go on like this... Now we can no longer restrict ourselves to [making] government statements alone, but must show the Americans that the jokes are over."

For Ernst, buying US gas is a road to nowhere. He insists that American LNG extracted though fracking is not acceptable for Germany and moreover it is much more expensive than Russian gas.

As the Nord Stream construction continued, the US tried to throw geopolitics into the debate, with US President Donald Trump claiming Germany could become dependent on Moscow's gas supplies, as could the rest of Europe.

Nord Stream 2
© REUTERS/Stine Jacobsen
Allseas' deep sea pipe laying ship Solitaire lays pipes for Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea
"This argument is untenable for the reason that the location of the pipeline does not matter at all, as long as the gas supplied through it is produced in Russia," Ernst said. Russia also has every reason to stick to the deal.

In other words, Russia is as dependent on the sales of its gas as Germany would be dependent on Russian gas... So here we are talking not of dependence, but merely of a fabricated US rationale to increase the sales of American gas."

Despite growing resentment over America's carrot and stick approach, Chancellor Merkel partially gave in to the pressure, greenlighting at least four LNG terminals to be built by the mid-2020s.

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Interestingly, the US corporate media has said the US sanctions won't change anything on the ground. Bloomberg, for instance, pointed out that "their timing and design can only slow down the project's now-certain completion."

Wintershall, a Germany company contributing to the pipeline construction, said it will be finished by year's end if the windy Baltic weather doesn't alter the schedule. The last remaining leg of the Nord Stream - roughly 280km long - passes near the Danish coast, and the country has previously approved the construction works.