The US will ensure that the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany will not become operational if Moscow decides to invade Ukraine, State Department spokesman Ned Price insisted Wednesday.
During an interview with NPR, Price was pressed by host Ari Shapiro about the status of the pipeline if Russia chooses military action over diplomacy.
“Will Germany stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project if Russia invades Ukraine?” Shapiro asked.
“Well, Ari, I’d make two points here,” Price answered. “Number one, gas is not currently flowing through Nord Stream 2, and that’s important because it means that Nord Stream 2 right now is not operational. It is leverage for us. It is leverage for Germany. It is leverage for the trans-Atlantic community because gas is not flowing. To be clear, it is not leverage for Vladimir Putin.
“Second point — and I want to be very clear,” the spokesman continued, “if Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward, and we want to be very clear about that.”
The Biden administration has repeatedly claimed the pipeline is leverage over Russia as many in the West fear an invasion of Ukraine. However, the White House opted to waive sanctions on the company responsible for its construction back in May, with President Biden noting that the project was “almost completely finished.”
Earlier this month, the Senate rejected a bill introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would have imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2 by a 55-44 vote, falling short of the required 60.
The pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea and would deprive the Ukraine government of lucrative gas transit fees if it ever becomes operational. While construction was completed in September, German and European regulators have not yet signed off on starting the flow of gas.
Last week, German officials suggested they would consider halting the pipeline if Russia invades its western neighbor.
“It is clear that there will be a high price to pay and that everything will have to be discussed should there be a military intervention in Ukraine,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters.
Wednesday morning, German Ambassador to the US Emily Haber reiterated that stance, tweeting: “The US and Germany jointly declared last summer: if Russia uses energy as a weapon or if there is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia will have to pay a high price.”
Haber added that Scholz and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had “stated clearly: nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2.”
Also Wednesday, the US delivered its written response rejecting Russia’s demand that Ukraine be prevented from ever joining NATO.
Russia — which has repeatedly denied any intent to invade Ukraine — has massed up to 120,000 troops along the border between the two countries and was recently seen transporting military equipment into Belarus.