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At NATO, Blinken warns Germany over Nord Stream 2 pipeline

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A road sign directs traffic towards the Nord Stream 2 gas line landfall facility entrance in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

BRUSSELS, March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built from Russia to Germany ran counter to the European Union's own interests and could undermine Ukraine.

Germany is pushing for the pipeline's completion, despite sustained U.S. opposition over more than a decade. The United States fears Russia could use Nord Stream 2 as leverage to weaken EU states by increasing dependency on Moscow.

"President (Joe) Biden has been very clear, he believes the pipeline is a bad idea, bad for Europe, bad for the United States, ultimately it is in contradiction to the EU's own security goals," Blinken said as he met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

"It has the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland and a number of close partners and allies," Blinken added, saying that a U.S. law required Washington to impose sanctions on companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project.

Blinken also emphasized Washington's opposition to the pipeline in his meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Nord Stream 2 will bypass Ukraine, a Western ally, potentially depriving it of valuable transit fees. It will also increase European energy dependency on Russia and compete with shipments of U.S. liquefied natural gas.

The pipeline is already around 95% built, and could be finished by September, analysts who monitor tracking data say.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Alex Richardson and Edmund Blair

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