By Oliver Towfigh Nia
BERLIN (AA) - The German government on Monday dismissed the latest sanction threats by a group of US Republican senators who vowed to impose "crushing legal and economic sanctions" on the Port of Sassnitz of the German Baltic Sea over the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Speaking at a weekly press conference in Berlin, Steffen Seibert, the government spokesman, said: “Our stance against extraterritorial sanctions is known. We clearly reject it.”
Seibert pointed out that his country was in talks with other European partners as to what next steps should be taken in reaction to these American sanction threats.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christofer Burger reiterated extraterritorial sanctions were not legal.
In another related development, German press agency dpa reported that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had complained to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo about the latest threat of sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea.
In a phone call with Pompeo on Sunday, Maas said he was concerned about the letter from three senators to the Sassnitz ferry port on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen.
The Republican senators -- Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Ron Johnson -- threatened operators and shareholders of the port with entry bans into and property freeze in the US.
The Republican senators warned that the US would impose "crushing legal and economic sanctions" on the Port of Sassnitz on the German Baltic Sea over the construction of the gas pipeline, daily Die Welt reported last week.
This sparked widespread political criticism in Germany and triggered calls for countermeasures.
The Republican trio sent a letter to the port's management, saying the sanctions would be "obligatory" and had to be applied with full force.
Located in the voting district of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sassnitz port is a key logistics hub for the nearly complete pipeline project that links Germany with Russia and which has been heavily criticized by the US government for allegedly increasing European dependence on Russian energy resources.
The senators warned the port authorities that continuing to host Russian construction vessels and move or store materials for the pipeline would "destroy the financial survival" of their business according to Die Welt.
The Republican legislators reaffirmed American government claims that Nord Stream 2 is a "severe threat to the national security of the USA" and argued that both parties in the US Congress were determined to prevent the project's completion so that "these threats never materialize."
US-German relations have reached a post-World War II low as the Merkel government has repeatedly faced the wrath of Trump over a range of issues, including defense spending, climate change, the Iran nuclear agreement, and Germany’s trade surplus.