US warns of sanctions risk to Germany-Russia gas pipeline

BERLIN (AP) — American officials say a pipeline project between Russia and Germany risks triggering U.S. sanctions because of security concerns.

Senior State Department diplomat Sandra Oudkirk says the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline because it could increase Russia's "malign influence" in Europe.

Oudkirk, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary, said Thursday the pipeline would divert gas away from Ukraine, which depends on transit fees, and could become a pathway for Russia to install surveillance equipment in the Baltic Sea.

She told reporters in Berlin that while the U.S. is "exerting as much persuasive power as we can" to stop the project, Congress has given the administration authority to impose sanctions in connection with pipeline projects.

Oudkirk said "any pipeline project ... is in an elevated position of sanctions risk."