Economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States may be hurting more than just officials in Moscow, creating a “boomerang effect” on Europe.
In an interview with Germany’s Kurier newspaper, Angelika Vintsig, the deputy of the National Council, Austria’s lower house of parliament, expressed concerns over sanctions.
“The economic sanctions of the West against Russia punish the wrong,” Kurier quoted Vintsig as saying on Sunday. “I am against sanctions because they do not bring any result.”
Russia’s relations with the United States and European countries nose-dived in the last few years, mostly due to what some say was Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine in February 2014 and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula weeks later.
Vintsig pointed that the West should have sought other political solutions for solving international problems rather than imposing sanctions against Russia. In addition, she expressed dismay at some calling for the cancellation of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 underwater gas pipeline that connects Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.
“We need Nord Stream 2 – this is the position of Austria,” Vintsig said. “Energy supply is an important issue, and we have no other alternative.”
Nord Stream 2 is supposed to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas per year to Europe, but the United States has continuously raised objections to the project, including President Donald Trump.
"Germany is a captive of Russia," Trump said last July at a NATO summit in Brussels, referencing the Nord Stream 2 project. "I think it's something that NATO has to look at," Trump said. "Germany is totally controlled by Russia."
Washington has been pushing officials in Europe to abandon the project and instead purchase American liquefied natural gas as an alternative.
While most of the European governments that are required to approve the project have done so, Denmark has been a hold-out, delaying approval of permits for the pipeline to pass through its waters. Copenhagen is requiring Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom that operates the line, a new route that would bypass Danish waters.
On Monday, Alexey Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, alluded to the possibility of changes to the schedule for Nord Stream 2.
“Even if some situations occur, it’s important to understand that they could affect the project’s deadlines, but in a very, very insignificant way,” Gazeta.ru quoted Miller as saying on Sunday during an interview with Russia 1 TV.
The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 project is backed by a consortium of western European energy companies, namely Austria’s OMV, the Anglo-Dutch company Shell, France’s Engie and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, which collectively have provided 50 percent of the funding. Gazprom has put up the other half.
Along with the United States, some European countries such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States, opposed the project, fearing it will significantly increase European dependence on Russia to meet the continent’s growing energy needs.