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US sanction threats over Nord Stream 2 pipeline possible "rhetoric," Finnish expert says

If sanctions are carried out, an international affairs expert said it could "paralyse" the project.

Ylijäämäkaasu poltetaan. Tätä kutsutaan soihduttamiseksi ja se lisää mustaa hiiltä arktisilla alueilla ja edesauttaa sen sulamista.
Excess fuel burns off at an LNG plant on Russia's Yamal Peninsula. Image: Grigory Vorobjov

On Tuesday United States secretary of energy Rick Perry said the US is seriously considering sanctioning firms involved in the Nord Stream 2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline project.

When completed, possibly by the end of this year, Nord Stream 2 will carry Russian LNG to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea. A number of firms are involved in the international, Russian-led project, including Finnish energy company Fortum.

"The opposition to Nord Stream 2 is still very much alive and well in the United States," Perry said during a visit to Kiev, Ukraine at the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday.

Perry said the sanctions could arrive in the "not too distant future," saying that the US Congress and Senate were preparing to approve legislation on the matter.

Sanctions could "paralyse" firms

The programme director of global security research at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Mika Aaltola, said Perry's comments were more about American desires rather than an actual threat.

"[The US] wants to remind Europe and the companies involved in the project that the US will continue to oppose it," Aaltola told Yle.

Aaltola said the firms would be hit hard, if and when the threatened sanctions are carried out.

"It would paralyse [the companies] and delay the project as well as make it more costly," Aaltola said.

In addition to the US, some eastern European, Nordic and Baltic countries have also voiced concerns that the pipeline would increase Russia's geopolitical influence in the region.

The Nord Stream 2 project is led by Russian energy giant Gazprom. Finnish energy company Fortum is also involved in the effort due to its share in German energy firm Uniper, which invested heavily in Nord Stream 2. Fortum bought up nearly 50 percent of Uniper last year.

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