Amid fears that Senate Republicans will try to use the military spending bill to shoehorn in new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, German officials have begun lobbying Congress against the idea, warning it would weaken US credibility and damage transatlantic unity.
Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline under construction to bring gas through from Russia to Greifswald, Germany. The pipeline is loudly opposed by the Ukraine because it circumvents existing pipelines through Ukrainian territory. The US has at times opposed, and threatened to sanction those involved in, the pipeline.
Russia has been very keen to find direct energy routes into the EU market, as Ukraine has had billing disputes with Russia over paying for their gas. Some financial analysts have warned this makes the Ukraine route undependable for trade.
Germany sees the pipeline as a way to get dependable energy from Russia, while the US sees it as undercutting Ukraine. With Ukraine sabre-rattling against its ethnic Russian minority, there is not an easy solution agreeable to all parties, but keeping the gas flowing is vital for the EU nations.
US sanctions in this case would not force the EU into their camp, but rather might force a more direct split with the US to get the energy they need from Russia.