Operator of Nord Stream 2 Fires All Employees After US Sanctions

The operator of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has terminated contracts with all its employees after it was hit with U.S. sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 AG was sanctioned by the United States last week after Russia recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine prior to its invasion of the country, which has prompted a wave of economic sanctions by the West. The company, which is registered in Switzerland, is owned by Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom.

“Following the recent geopolitical developments leading to the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company had to terminate contracts with employees. We very much regret this development,” Nord Stream 2 AG told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Switzerland’s economy minister, Guy Parmelin, told Swiss radio service RTS on Feb. 28 that all 140 Nord Stream employees who worked for the company in the Swiss city of Zug had their contracts terminated.

Two unidentified sources told Reuters that Nord Stream 2 AG is considering filing for insolvency.

“Nord Stream became insolvent because of last week’s U.S. sanctions,” Silvia Thalmann-Gut, economics director in the Swiss canton of Zug where the company is based, told public broadcaster SRF, according to Agence France-Presse.

Officials at Nord Stream 2 AG and Gazprom didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The pipeline hadn’t begun commercial operations because it was pending certification in Germany, which last week put the process on hold because of the escalating Ukraine crisis.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued an executive order on Feb. 23 that authorized “the wind-down of transactions involving Nord Stream 2 AG” or “any entity in which Nord Stream 2 AG owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest” by March 2.

President Joe Biden on Feb. 23 announced sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers “in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.”

“As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate,” the president said in a statement announcing the measures. “Through his actions, President [Vladimir] Putin has provided the world with an overwhelming incentive to move away from Russian gas and to other forms of energy.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times