US Republicans renew push to sanction Nord Stream 2 pipeline

File photo. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, questions Zalmay Khalilzad, special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 27 April 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

A group of US Senate Republicans said on Monday (8 November) they had introduced legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on Nord Stream 2, a Russian-backed natural gas pipeline that opponents believe would be harmful to US allies in Europe.

The six lawmakers, led by Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, offered the measure as an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act, or NDAA, a sweeping defence policy bill that the Congress passes every year.

“Unsurprisingly, the Biden administration continues to ignore Congress’ will on Nord Stream 2, therefore abandoning Ukraine and handing Russia energy leverage over our US allies. To stop this, I introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act imposing sanctions on Nord Stream 2,” Risch tweeted.

“At a time when Russia is restricting energy in Europe, the Biden administration needs to follow the law by sanctioning Nord Stream 2,” said Republican Senator from Wyoming John Barrasso. “We know that protecting this Russian trap is not in our national security interest. Our amendment will rightfully restore bipartisan sanctions on Putin’s geopolitical weapon”.

“[The Biden] administration is sending a message of weakness and appeasement to our adversaries, encouraging and emboldening them. I am happy to support this amendment that will serve as a check on Putin’s malign activities”, Republican Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson stated.

The amendment foresees imposing sanctions on any entity responsible for planning, constructing or operating Nord Stream 2 and any corporate officer or principal shareholder. Foreigners under these categories would be ineligible for US visas.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached an agreement allowing the pipeline that will take Russian gas directly to Germany to proceed.

US waives sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Biden seeks to mend Europe ties

The Biden administration waived sanctions on the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday (19 May), a move decried by critics of the project in Congress.

Many politicians and energy companies in Germany support Nord Stream 2 as Europe’s biggest economy seeks to phase out coal and nuclear power at the same time.

German ministry: Nord Stream 2 not a supply security issue

The ministry of economy and energy, led by caretaker minister Peter Altmaier, has completed its long-awaited analysis of the potential impacts of certifying the Gazprom pipeline Nord Stream 2, concluding that the pipeline does “not jeopardise the security of gas …

Germany has been pressing for the United States to drop its opposition to the project, arguing that the overall relationship was too important to sacrifice over what Berlin has described as a commercial project.

Russia’s state energy company, Gazprom and its Western partners, have raced to finish the pipeline to send natural gas under the Baltic Sea.

Ukraine has long opposed the nearly completed $11 billion project because it will give Moscow the theoretical option to stop routing gas via Ukraine, which would deprive Kyiv of billions of dollars in lucrative transit fees and, it says, imperils its security.

The Brief, powered by GIE — Pipeline politics for dummies

It’s not easy to make sense of the thousands of stories about Nord Stream 2. To make it simple, Russia and Germany want the pipeline, while Ukraine, Poland, and the US are against it. But why should Ukraine, Poland, the US and others meddle into what looks like bilateral business?

Nord Stream 2 is currently undergoing a certification process in Germany, which should last four months, followed by a similar certification by the EU Commission. Ukraine has not abandoned hopes that the certification outcome would be that Nord Stream 2 is in breach of EU law.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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