President-elect Joe Biden has promised to confront the Russian leader, who enjoyed somewhat warmer relations with Trump.
Russian state gas company Gazprom acknowledged there is a risk that its undersea pipeline to Germany could be suspended or cancelled after the United States on Tuesday slapped sanctions on a Russian ship involved in its construction.
Germany’s Economy Ministry said it had been informed in advance of the new US sanctions against the Russian pipe-laying ship Fortuna and its owner. “We take note of this announcement with regret,” the ministry said.
The US has said that the $11bn Nord Stream 2 pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security. The Kremlin has responded by accusing the US government of trying to promote sales of its own liquefied natural gas.
In a memorandum for investors linked to a debt issue, Gazprom noted political risks for Nord Stream 2. The company acknowledged that it could make “the implementation of the project impossible or unfeasible and lead to its suspension or cancellation,” according to the TASS news agency.
Speaking Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented what he described as “crude and illegitimate US pressure.”
“We closely follow the situation and analyse it as we continue work to finalise the project,” he said in a conference call with reporters.
Gazprom said that six percent of the pipeline, or about 150km (93 miles), remains to be completed and insisted that it intends to complete the project soon.
The pipeline construction was suspended in December 2019 when a Swiss firm pulled its vessels out of the project amid threats of US sanctions, forcing Gazprom to try to complete it with its own resources. After a long effort to deploy Russian pipe-laying vessels, construction work resumed in German waters last month.