U.S. says investors in Russian pipelines may face sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said investors in two Russian natural gas pipelines may face sanctions in a move designed to curb Moscow’s economic influence over Europe and Turkey.

The United States may use the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act to punish participants in the Nord Stream 2 and a branch of the TurkStream pipeline, Reuters reported citing a statement by Pompeo on Wednesday. They will carry gas from Russia to Europe and Turkey.

“It’s a clear warning to companies aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now, or risk, the consequences,” Pompeo said, according to Reuters.

Russia responded to the U.S. warnings, saying they were designed to put pressure on the actors involved.

“This is the use of political pressure for unfair competition,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “It is an indicator of the weakness of the American system. Apart from forceful methods, there are no effective tools.”

Construction of Nord Stream 2 has already been suspended after Allseas, a Swiss-Dutch company, pulled out. Two Russian-owned pipe-laying vessels may finish the remaining a remaining 160 km of undersea pipeline for the project, led by Russia state-run company Gazprom, Reuters said. The project, which transits the Baltic, is worth 9.5 billion euros ($10.5 billion).  

TurkStream is a natural gas pipeline running from Russia to Turkey. It starts near Anapa in Russia's Krasnodar Region and crosses the Black Sea to Kıyıköy in northern Turkey. Construction started in May 2017 and deliveries to Bulgaria began in January. From Bulgaria, the gas will be delivered to countries in Central Europe.