German banks & ECAs manoeuvre in Washington to temper US Russia sanction risk

(Reuters, Frankfurt, 8 February 2019) German banks are seeking to blunt any fresh U.S. sanctions against Russia so they can continue existing business with Russian clients, according to an internal briefing paper prepared by a financial industry lobby group. The risk of new restrictions on doing business with Russia has risen since the Democratic Party won control of the U.S. House of Representatives. New anti-Moscow measures could jeopardise funding for a 9.5 billion euro gas pipeline which seeks to channel gas from Russia directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea. "Nord Stream is the elephant in the room," said one person with direct knowledge of the matter. Russian news agency TASS quoted Nord Stream 2’s finance chief Paul Corcoran saying it was in discussions with export credit agencies and wanted to raise around 6 billion euros. Last month, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany sent a letter to companies involved in Nord Stream warning that they could face sanctions if they stick with it.