The controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not be certified if Russia invades Ukraine, said US state department spokesperson, Ned Price.
Speaking to National Public Radio (NPR), he said: “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward. I’m not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward.”
The comments follow German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suggesting potential sanctions to the pipeline if Russia instigates conflict in the region.
At a press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last week, he revealed halting Nord Stream 2 could be part of the “severe economic costs” Russia could face if it invades Ukraine.
Scholz said: “It is clear that there will be a high cost and that all this will have to be discussed if there is a military intervention against Ukraine,”
Nord Stream 2 has already been constructed by Kremlin-backed gas giant Gazprom, and will double Germany’s gas imports from Russia if approved by the country’s regulator.
Built across the bed of the Baltic Sea, the £8.4bn project would also benefit the Kremlin politically as it would bypass traditional transit nation Ukraine, and cut off its transit fees.
It has faced resistance within the European Union, and from both the US and UK, as it would increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, with the continent reliant on Russia for 40 per cent of its natural gas supplies.
The project would also contradict the continent’s current efforts to transition Europe towards a greener energy mix.
The pipeline was expected to be approved last year, but the process was suspended amid governance concerns, with no decision now expected until the summer.
Think tanks have warned that potential sanctions against Russia could worsen Europe’s energy crisis and caused already high gas prices to spike again.
The US is reportedly in talks with large LNG producers such as Qatar to procure gas for Europe in case there are further supply shortages.
Meanwhile, the EU’s energy commissioner Kadri Simson is set to attend conferences in the US and Azerbaijan next month to try and strike gas deals with more suppliers.