Russia Aims to Complete Nord Stream Gas Pipeline, Despite U.S. Objections

Russia’s Gazprom PJSC has made a request with the Danish government to deploy new vessels in the Baltic Sea for work on the disputed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Denmark’s environmental protection agency said.

The application is the latest signal that Russia aims to complete the 1,200-kilometer (745 mile) pipeline linking Russia and Germany in the face of U.S. efforts to halt the project. An environmental report doesn’t foresee greater risks associated with the newly proposed ships.

The request to deploy so-called DP3-class vessels is “purely administrative,” the Copenhagen-based regulator said. A ruling could fall by early July, according to an EPA email on Wednesday that narrowed the time frame for making a decision to weeks from months.

The Akademik Cherskiy, a vessel that Russia could use to build the remaining stretch of the gas-export link, arrived at a German Baltic port last month after a trip from the Sea of Japan that took two months. The ship is a DP3-class pipe-laying vessel, according to Esperis Consulting, a Warsaw-based energy consultancy.

The project’s advance comes as the U.S. signals it will impose additional sanctions after delaying the project last December. Germany has warned that such a move may violate international law and harm already strained trans-Atlantic relations.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators this month floated legislation that would expand U.S. sanctions by taking aim at insurance companies that work with Russian vessels on completion of the pipeline.

Senator Ted Cruz, one of the lead sponsors of the legislation, said the pipeline poses “a critical threat to America’s national security and must not be completed.” Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to circumvent the sanctions passed by Congress last year, Cruz said in a statement.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, said the pipeline “threatens Ukraine, Europe’s energy independence and gives Russia an opening to exploit our allies” and that “Congress must once again take decisive action and stand in this pipeline’s path.”

Photograph: Gas pipes for Gazprom in the snow in the Moscox Region, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2020.