MOSCOW (Dispatches) - o“From the very beginning, Washington strove to prevent the development of normal energy cooperation between Russia and Europe. The unilateral actions of the Americans against the project violate international law and contradict the principle of free market relations. This is nothing more than an attempt to gain a competitive advantage for its fuel and technology suppliers,” he pointed out, TASS reported.
“We believe that the format for using the pipeline should be determined in Europe, primarily in Germany, and not in the United States,” Antonov added.
On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order making it possible for the Washington administration to impose sanctions on certain Russian energy export pipelines. Restrictions were introduced against several Russian companies that, according to Washington, are engaged in the construction of Nord Stream 2.
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction of two pipeline strings with a total capacity of 55bn cubic meters per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany.
The pipeline’s construction was suspended at the end of 2019 when the Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas stopped work due to Washington’s sanctions. However, work resumed in December 2020 after a year-long pause. News came in late July that the gas pipeline was 99% completed.
Meanwhile, the envoy said U.S. sanctions on Russia over an incident involving Western-backed blogger Alexei Navalny prove that the U.S. continues to pursue a policy aimed at destroying ties with Moscow.
On Friday, Washington also imposed sanctions against Moscow on the first anniversary of Navalny’s poisoning, targeting a number of Russian security officials allegedly involved in a nerve attack on the blogger last year.
“The actions of the U.S. side confirm that the administration continues to blindly follow the course of destroying relations with Russia. They don’t think about the consequences,” the Russian embassy’s Facebook page quoted Anatoly Antonov as saying.
“Instead of focusing on real threats and problems of global security, they are engaged in moralizing, seeking to cling to the country’s pseudo-leading role in democracy and international law. It is unlikely that Washington’s unconstructive steps will help strengthen global stability in such a difficult time for all states,” Antonov added.
The Russian ambassador said the new sanctions were introduced under a completely false pretext.
“No evidence of the use of chemical warfare agents was provided. Moreover, Russia, in contrast to the United States, back in 2017, completely eliminated all its [chemical weapons] stocks.”
The U.S. sanctions also targeted nine individuals and four entities who were said to be Russian intelligence operatives.
In another development, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed their sharply different views of Russia’s treatment of Navalny, and other major topics of dispute Friday but vowed to maintain a dialogue.
Merkel traveled to Moscow as she is nearing the end of her almost 16-year-long leadership of Germany. Despite deep disagreements, she has tried throughout her tenure to preserve close contacts with Putin.
Speaking after Friday’s talks with Putin, Merkel reiterated a call for Navalny’s release, pointing out that the European Court of Human Rights had criticized his 2014 conviction as “clearly disproportionate is unacceptable.”
Putin rejected the criticism, arguing that Navalny’s sentencing wasn’t connected to his opposition activities.
“He was convicted of a criminal offense, not his political activities,” the Russian leader said. “No one should use political activities as a cover for conducting business projects in violation of the law.”