Germany, EU condemn US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

The Nord Stream 2 project, above, which will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany via a pipeline under the Baltic Sea, was supposed to be expected to be completed in early 2020. (dpa via AP)
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Updated 21 December 2019

Germany, EU condemn US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

  • Sanctions target contractors working to lay pipes for Nord Stream 2 project
  • Project aims to double deliveries of Russian natural gas to Germany via a pipeline under the Baltic Sea

BERLIN: Germany accused the US of interfering in its internal affairs on Saturday for imposing sanctions on companies working on a major project to supply Western Europe with Russian gas.
Moscow and the European Union also issued statements criticizing the sanctions, a day after President Donald Trump signed off on asset freezes and visa restrictions on those involved in the Nord Stream 2 project.
US lawmakers are seeking to stymie what they regard as an increasing reliance on Russian energy in Western Europe by targeting the project, which aims to double deliveries of Russian natural gas to Germany via a pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
The sanctions target contractors working to lay pipes for Nord Stream 2 — a €10-billion ($11-billion) project expected to be completed in early 2020 — and another Russian gas project, TurkStream.
Swiss contractor Allseas said after the sanctions were imposed that it had “suspended its Nord Stream 2 pipelay activities.”
Although US Congress overwhelmingly backed the sanctions, there was some criticism among lawmakers of a move that in effect punishes NATO allies such as Germany.
While an EU spokesman criticized “the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business,” the German government said Berlin rejected “these sorts of extra-territorial sanctions.”
“They will hit German and European companies and constitute an interference in our internal affairs,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the United States of pushing an ideology that hindered global trade, adding on her Facebook page: “Soon they will demand that we stop breathing.”
Russian gas giant Gazprom is financing roughly half of the project, with the other half paid for by five European companies.


India’s coronavirus cases jump, transmission rate increases

Updated 33 min 2 sec ago

India’s coronavirus cases jump, transmission rate increases

  • The new cases bring the total in the world’s third worst-affected country to 767,296
  • Health experts say the true extent of the virus’s spread in India is unknown and more testing must be done

NEW DELHI: India reported nearly 25,000 new coronavirus infections Thursday and its transmission rate is increasing for the first time since March.
The new cases bring the total in the world’s third worst-affected country to 767,296. India’s health ministry said the COVID-19 death toll had risen to 21,129.
Research by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai shows that India’s virus reproduction rate ticked up in the first week of July to 1.19 after steadily falling from peak transmission of 1.83 in March. The rate needs to be below one for new cases to start falling.
India’s infection numbers have skyrocketed since lockdown restrictions were eased. At the same time, testing has ramped up to more than 200,000 samples a day, compared to just a few hundred in March.
Health experts say the true extent of the virus’s spread in India is unknown and more testing must be done, given its population of nearly 1.4 billion people.