Recent reports suggest that the Russian government is trying to complete construction of Nord Stream 2, a controversial natural gas pipeline that will enable Russia to increase the amount of natural gas it exports directly to Germany and onward to other European Union (EU) member states (bypassing Ukraine and other transit countries). Pipeline construction was suspended in December 2019, after the United States imposed sanctions related to the project. The Trump Administration and Congress have expressed opposition to Nord Stream 2, reflecting concerns about European dependence on Russian energy and the threat Russia poses to Ukraine.
In May 2020, a pipelaying vessel owned by a subsidiary of Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom arrived at Germany’s Mukran port, a logistics hub for Nord Stream 2. Observers expect Gazprom to use that ship and a second pipelaying vessel to try to finish the pipeline. About 100 miles of the approximately 760-mile pipeline remain to be laid and connected (see Figure 1). Russian officials have said the pipeline could be completed by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Analysts note that even if Gazprom can finish construction of the pipeline, the company still would need to make significant changes to the ownership structure of the pipeline to comply with EU energy regulations.