Merkel  Grenell
© REUTERS/Axel SchmidtGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel receives the ambassador of U.S. to Germany, Richard Grenell, in Meseberg, Germany July 6, 2018.
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell says the new sanctions aimed at derailing the construction of the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline are beneficial to Europe, while chiding Berlin for not being "pro-Europe" enough.

Grenell, who has courted controversy in Germany with his frequent attempts to meddle in Berlin's sovereign matters, said in an interview with Bild and AP that he was swamped with messages of gratitude from European diplomats after US President Donald Trump signed a defense spending bill envisioning biting sanctions on the companies involved in the construction of the $11 billion pipeline.

"I've been hearing all day from European diplomats thanking me for taking this action," Grenell said, claiming that the decision was made at the behest of Washington's "European partners" who, he said, were begging for the US to "support them in their efforts."

While Grenell did not elaborate on which countries' representatives were lining up to say thanks, he described the sanctions as "a very pro-European decision."

The diplomat, however, brushed off the reaction of Germany, the country he is based in, which has flatly rejected the new crackdown, accusing Washington of interfering in its domestic affairs with extraterritorial sanctions.

Grenell, who is no stranger to lecturing Berlin on what should be done with its defense spending and foreign policy (he has even been called an "occupation commissioner" for that), appeared to suggest the European powerhouse needs to become more "pro-Europe."

"Currently there is a lot of talk in Germany about doing more for Europe and we believe that when it comes to Nord Stream 2, we have taken an extremely pro-European position"

Germany has long been vocal in its opposition to outside interference in its joint project with Russia, with some even calling for a tit-for-tat response such as banning imports of the American LNG (liquefied natural gas) to Germany.

Moscow has condemned the sanctions as well, accusing the US of preventing "creditworthy" countries from developing their economies.

The EU Commission has been reserved in its reaction to the US move, but noted that it is against any sanctions that target companies legally doing business, and has been studying their potential impact on European companies.