All news

US 'smacks Japan on nose' with blacklisting of Arctic LNG-2 project — Russian envoy

The project has been a key issue on the bilateral energy agenda for several years, Nikolay Nozdrev noted

TOKYO, April 3. /TASS/. The US has virtually "smacked Japan on the nose" by imposing sanctions on the Arctic LNG-2 project in which Japan is a participant, with the result that Tokyo’s stake "ended up being completely frozen," Russian Ambassador to Japan Nikolay Nozdrev said in an interview with TASS.

"For several years representatives of Japanese ministries and the country’s leadership itself repeatedly and clearly explained to Washington why this project was important for Japan and why Tokyo wanted to keep it [active] for the foreseeable future," he said. "The Americans made the decision [to sanction the project] rather quickly, without even having consulted with Japan, which is trying in all possible ways to servilely cater to the interests of the United States," the diplomat added. "The Japanese have virtually been given a smack on the nose, to remind them who’s the boss and who’s the subordinate on the US-Japan team," he noted.

The project has been a key issue on the bilateral energy agenda for several years, Nozdrev said. "The project is interesting, commercially profitable and, as has repeatedly been stressed here, fully met Tokyo’s long-term interests, including regarding ensuring energy security," he said.

"After the US made the well-known decision on the extension of sanctions mechanisms to Arctic LNG-2 in November 2023, the participation of Japanese companies ended up being completely frozen. And I have rather serious doubts that the current administration of [Japanese Prime Minister] Fumio Kishida would be able to go toe to toe with Washington to defend its position in this dialogue," the ambassador remarked.

On November 2, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on the Arctic LNG-2 project for the construction of an LNG plant. It also set a deadline of January 31, 2024 for wrapping up all deals within the framework of Arctic LNG-2. The project’s participants include major independent Russian natural gas producer Novatek (60%), TotalEnergies of France (10%), CNPC (10%) and CNOOC (10%) of China, and Arctic LNG of Japan, a consortium between Mitsui and Jogmec (10%).

The Japanese side, which has maintained its participation in Russia’s Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects, has repeatedly stressed these projects’ importance for ensuring the country’s energy security. Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi own stakes of 12.5% and 10%, respectively, in Sakhalin-2. Japan, one of the world’s largest LNG importers, received around 9% of its total imports from Russia. This volume provides for roughly 3% of all electricity generation in Japan, which is the world’s fourth-largest economy.