Nord Stream 2: US ambassador makes threats

The US ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, has written a letter to German companies threatening them with sanctions if they don't give up their participation in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Was this an embarrassing faux pas, an act of desperation, or a letter that could mark a turning point?

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Stuttgarter Nachrichten (DE) /

Embarrasing ranting

Grenell's threats are out of line, Stuttgarter Nachrichten complains:

“Nobody has called on Richard Grenell, the ambassador of the United States, to guide Germany. ... Doubts about how much sense it makes that Nord Stream 2 will further increase Germany's dependence on energy supplier Russia may be appropriate. Especially since the Putin government exerts pressure and does politics through such dependencies. ... But an ambassador who had reflected even briefly on his host country would know: All this is known here. And people also know how important it is for the EU and Nato to firmly stand together against the Russian aggression against its neighbour Ukraine. ... This makes his ranting all the more embarrassing.”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

Berlin has become disobedient

Ria Novosti sees the letter as a sign of US weakness:

“Grenell's letter is an admission that the Germans can be proud of something. The subtext is clear: We, the US, cannot force the German leadership to abandon Nord Stream 2, it does not listen to us, the usual methods don't work any more. That's why we have to try to influence the business side. The choice of an official ambassador's letter is also evidence that traditional and less formal instruments of influence such as background discussions were certainly used, but had no success with the German entrepreneurs. As a result, the Americans have resorted to direct and brutal threats.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Germans getting cold feet

Rzeczpospolita believes that even Germany isn't convinced of the advantages of Nord Stream 2:

“Grenell's warning could increase the growing scepticism in Germany about this eleven billion-dollar investment. ... In April last year Chancellor Merkel admitted that the project had a geopolitical dimension beyond the economic one. According to Bloomberg, Nils Schmid, the SPD representative in the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee, had decided that Nord Stream 2 should be launched only once Ukraine and Russia have signed a new gas transport agreement. Up to that point the Social Democrats had pushed hard for the construction of Nord Stream 2.”