The US government is stepping up the looming threat of sanctions in a bid to halt the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which will link Russia to Germany, a senior US official told dpa.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the US government has already identified a number of companies or individuals that might face sanctions if they do not cease their operations related to the pipeline, which includes shipping activity.
"We're in the process of calling a number of these companies to make them aware that they're likely engaged in sanctionable activity," the official said, while declining to identify the companies.
"Many of these companies are unaware of this and these calls give them an opportunity to unwind their activity."
The US government will present a report to Congress on sanctionable companies within days or weeks, the official said.
In December 2019 the US passed the PEESA act, which provides a 30-day draw-down period for most companies determined to be conducting sanctionable activity on the pipeline.
Construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is nearly complete. It would double Russian deliveries of natural gas via a Baltic Sea route to Germany, Europe's largest economy.
Opponents of the pipeline, including the US, Poland and Ukraine, say the pipeline will give Russia an economic stranglehold over Germany, while the German government says it will create a direct and secure energy supply.
In a statement, Nord Stream 2 said its financial backers and suppliers, which include the Russian-owned Gazprom company, are "fully financially committed to the project."