Berlin (dpa) - After the threat of sanctions from the United States against the German Baltic Sea port Sassnitz-Mukran because of the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, the call for countermeasures is getting louder and louder.

Mecklenburg-West Pomerania's Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) demanded from the federal government «that they should decisively counteract these attempts to extortion». SPD parliamentary group leader Carsten Schneider said that Germany should not be treated "like a vassal state". The Greens foreign politician Jürgen Trittin called the threat an "economic declaration of war".

A government spokesman only said on dpa request that the letter from the US senators to the port had been noted. "The Federal Government has repeatedly made it clear that it rejects unilateral extraterritorial sanctions against German and European companies, such as those imposed by the United States."

In a letter to the port, three US senators threatened severe punitive measures on Wednesday: "The board members, officers and shareholders of Fährhafen Sassnitz GmbH are prohibited from entering the United States and any property or ownership that they have in our jurisdiction will be frozen. »

This is the first time that a case is publicly known in which sanctions are directed directly against a German company. Particularly controversial: the ferry port belongs to 90 percent of the city of Sassnitz and 10 percent to the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The threat is therefore indirectly directed against a state government. The fact that the port of Sassnitz-Mukran on Rügen is in the constituency of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) gives it additional explosiveness.

The port plays a central role in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which is to come from Russia to land in Lubmin on the Greifswalder Bodden. The steel pipes required for the completion are stored in Sassnitz, which were covered with concrete in a factory in Mukran. In addition, there is the laying ship of the Russian company Gazprom, the "Akademik Tscherski", which is to complete the pipeline construction together with the Russian ship "Fortuna". A housing ship for around 140 workers has also moored in the city harbor of Sassnitz. It is believed that they are involved in the further construction of the gas terrace.

A good 150 kilometers are still missing from the pipeline, which is a total of 2,360 kilometers long. So the project is 94 percent complete. In December 2019, the construction work off the Danish island of Bornholm was stopped abruptly because the two Swiss lay ships stopped operating due to the first wave of sanctions in the United States. Now the two Russian ships are to take over. Approval from the Danish authorities for this has been in force since the beginning of the week. The ships have not yet made their way to Bornholm. However, the letter from the senators could be related to the Danish approval.

US President Donald Trump has been criticizing Nord Stream 2 for years and accuses Germany of being militarily protected from Russia, but at the same time provides Moscow with high earnings from gas exports. Critics accuse him of only wanting to prevent the pipeline in order to be able to sell more American liquefied gas in Europe.

Trump had given the first punitive measures against certain companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 in late 2019. But they mainly affected the laying ships. In mid-July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to extend sanctions under the CAATSA law (Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions), which could also affect German companies. Since then, the US has been putting massive pressure on companies to withdraw from the project, which is expected to be completed in early 2021.

The East Committee of the German economy has been demanding tough countermeasures for a long time. After the new threat of sanctions, he receives further political support. «These threats are absolutely unacceptable. Germany can decide for itself where and how it gets its energy, ”said Schwesig to Berlin's“ Tagesspiegel ”.

The parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Schneider, told the editorial network Germany (RND): "The ultimate threat of a friendly nation to a port on Rügen with economic destruction has a completely new, unacceptable political quality." The senators' letter bears a “neo-imperialist signature”.

Some possible countermeasures are already under discussion. Schneider suggests lawsuits in the US courts and called for further "intelligent countermeasures" without becoming more specific. Trittin is for sanctions against the import of fracking gas from the United States. The AfD suggests the removal of Russia sanctions. The vice-group leader in the Bundestag and state chairman in Mecklenurg-Vorpommern, Leif-Erik Holm, also called for a binding guarantee from Berlin that “the pipeline will be built no matter what the US does”. The United States acted "like an occupying power".

The port itself did not comment on the senators' letter. A spokesman said the federal government and state government are expected to take action.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200807-99-82751 / 3

Fortuna position

Position Akademik Tscherski

Nord Stream 2

RND message

Tagesspiegel message