U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2 wrong solution: Germany's Maas

FILE PHOTO: Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas looks on during a 'Global Ireland' news conference in Dublin, Ireland January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. sanctions against the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be the wrong way to solve a dispute over energy supply, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Germany of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance and urged it to halt work on the $11 billion, Russian-led gas pipeline that is to be built in the Baltic Sea.

“Questions of European energy policy must be decided in Europe, not in the U.S.,” Maas said. “To impose unilateral sanctions against Nord Stream 2 is certainly not the way to go.”

Berlin and Moscow have been at odds since Russia annexed Crimea four years ago. But they have a common interest in the Nord Stream 2 project, which is expected to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream 1 route.

Washington is concerned the pipeline, which will bypass Ukraine by running under the Baltic Sea, will strip Ukraine of important transit revenues.

Joseph Giordono-Scholz, spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin, said other European states also opposed the planned pipeline.

“We would point out that... the European Parliament condemned Nord Stream 2 and called for its cancellation as recently as December,” he said in response to the comments by Maas.

Washington has touted liquefied natural gas, delivered by U.S. companies, as an alternative to Russian gas.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Reuters in an interview last month that Germany would build the infrastructure to import LNG and that authorities were currently in the process of clarifying location issues with private investors.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Jan Harvey and Dan Grebler