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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

US lawmakers urge State Dept. to expand sanctions over Nord Stream 2

09.03.2021 13:00
A group of US lawmakers has ramped up pressure on the State Department to expand sanctions against Nord Stream 2, the disputed pipeline Russia is racing to finish to take natural gas to Germany.
Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline lie in storage at the German port of Mukran at the end of last year.
Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline lie in storage at the German port of Mukran at the end of last year.Photo: PAP/Stefan Sauer/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

“We are deeply concerned that the Administration’s strong statements in opposition to the pipeline are not being matched by equally strong actions,” five Republican lawmakers led by Michael McCaul wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Instead, it appears the Administration is talking tough while hiding behind an opaque “evidentiary threshold” to avoid the full implementation of mandatory Congressional sanctions as required by law,” the lawmakers said.

They argued that the Biden administration’s “recent decision to sanction only the Russian pipe-laying vessel Fortuna and its owner, KVT- RUS, which had both already been designated by the prior Administration, was emblematic of this troubling inconsistency.”

“Given the shrinking window before the Nord Stream 2 pipeline’s completion, we urge you to submit to Congress new sanctions designations as soon as the required information becomes available, rather than wait until May 17th, when the current 90-day reporting period ends and the next mandatory report to Congress is due,” the Republican lawmakers said in their letter.

“We believe this would be consistent with your Administration’s rhetoric on the pipeline, including your comments at your confirmation hearing emphasizing that the Biden Administration was ‘determined to do whatever we can to prevent’ the completion of the project,” the letter also said.

It was signed by House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican Michael McCaul, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Representatives Adam Kinzinger, Brian Fitzpatrick and August Pfluger.

US lawmaker Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. US lawmaker Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Photo: EPA/KEVIN DIETSCH

A White House spokeswoman said last month that President Joe Biden considers Nord Stream 2 a “bad deal” which divides Europe, and will decide whether sanctions are needed on the project.

The United States in January moved to slap sanctions on a Russian vessel helping build Nord Stream 2, Polish website energetyka24.com reported at the time.

The website also reported earlier this year that German construction and engineering firm Bilfinger had withdrawn from work to build the link amid the threat of new US sanctions.

A senior German lawmaker has proposed introducing a moratorium on the construction of the controversial pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea, according to a report last month.

Nord Stream 2, designed to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream undersea gas pipeline, is expected to send around 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas a year directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea while bypassing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine.

Poland’s minister for European affairs, Konrad Szymański, warned in an opinion piece last year that Nord Stream 2, if completed, would make Europe economically dependent on Russia.

In September, then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that America was working to build a coalition of countries to stop the gas link from being completed.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last year that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would allow Russia to buy weapons with European money.

Morawiecki has previously called Nord Stream 2 “a new hybrid weapon” aimed at the European Union and NATO.

(gs/pk)

Source: biznesalert.plgop-foreignaffairs.house.gov