“When so much pipe has been laid, it’s not clear what the goal of sanctions would be,” Ms. Berzina said. “The project is so far along that a lot of the conversation about sanctions and halting it seem very late in the game.”
More important, she said, is “how do you deal with the political fallout, what does it do to the E.U., and how do you maintain some economic stability in Ukraine and guarantee transit through Ukraine and Poland?”
Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of the German Parliament’s foreign relations committee, has opposed Nord Stream 2. But despite the American threat of sanctions, he said, “it’s a little late” to stop it.
Even worse, he said, American sanctions “would mean a profound escalation regarding Germany and other European countries, and it would come close to a trade war.” Sanctions “would be a heavy blow to trans-Atlanticists,” who are already defensive about fierce Trump criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her policies.
“The geopolitical problem of Nord Stream is that it increases the dependence especially of Ukraine on Russia, but even more it has separated Germany from most of its European neighbors, especially its eastern ones, and it has also separated Germany from the United States,” said Mr. Röttgen, a member of Ms. Merkel’s party. “Russia is driving a wedge between Germany and its eastern neighbors, between Germany and the E.U., and between Germany and the United States.”
Ms. Merkel has defended the pipeline project. In February, at the Munich Security Conference, she mocked American concerns, saying that “a Russian gas molecule remains a Russian gas molecule irrespective of whether it comes from Ukraine or from underneath the Baltic Sea.”
Steven Erlanger is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe, based in Brussels. He previously reported from London, Paris, Jerusalem, Berlin, Prague, Moscow and Bangkok. @StevenErlanger
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