On January 18th, the United States notified Germany that it plans to impose sanctions on the Russian pipe-laying vessel “Fortuna” over its involvement in the construction of the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
“We’re taking note of the announcement with regret,” a spokesperson for Germany’s Economy Ministry said in Berlin.
The confirmation came after German business publication Handelsblatt reported that the US would be issuing sanctions under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Both Germany and the European Union have criticized US penalties. They say Washington is using the CAATSA sanctions regime to interfere in their foreign and energy policies.
The US claims the pipeline would threaten the EU’s security by increasing the bloc’s dependence on Russia.
“Although we do not comment on future sanctions measures, we will continue to exchange ideas with allies and partners on potential sanctions issues,” a spokesperson for the US embassy in Berlin had told the German outlet.
He added that the US hoped that Germanywould reconsider its position on Nord Stream 2.
The sanctions would punish any European company that helps Fortuna complete the Nord Stream 2 project, which is designed to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic seabed.
The new sanctions will take effect on January 19th, one day before US President Donald Trump vacates his seat, and Joe Biden steps in as President.
Separately, Alexey Navalny returned to Russia, but after the deadline he was given and was arrested.
In response, Lithuania called on the EU to impose new sanctions on Russia over the arrest.
“We urge Russia to immediately release Navalny and to arraign those responsible for the attempt on his life,” Lithuanian foreign affairs minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in a statement.
The Lithuanian statement, sent to Reuters, said Navalny’s arrest was in volation of human rights principles as set by the European Council.
Latvia and Estonia would reportedly also work towards imposing sanctions on Moscow.
In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that all the countries commenting on Russia’s internal matters should focus on what was going on in their own house.
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