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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

US readying new sanctions on Russia over Nord Stream 2: report

15.03.2021 17:00
The United States is preparing to slap new sanctions on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline being built from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, according to a report.
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

The Biden administration is readying additional sanctions as lawmakers demand the pipeline project be derailed before it's too late, the Politico news service has reported, citing "officials familiar with the internal deliberations."

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have warned the pipeline would place Russian infrastructure inside NATO territory and threaten its member states, Politico said in an article posted on its website.

If completed, Nord Stream 2 would also make some European countries more dependent on Russian energy and deprive Ukraine of billions of dollars in transit revenue, the Politico article added.

The report comes after a senior US Democratic senator said this month he expects the Biden administration to impose additional sanctions aimed at stopping construction of the contested pipeline.

“The Biden administration is working up their sanctions case that can stand up in court, but those take time and they’ve been in office less than two months so I encourage them to accelerate those efforts,” Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was quoted as saying last week.

“I think they are engaged in a full diplomatic push to stop Nord Stream 2,” he added during a conference call with reporters, as quoted by the Bloomberg news agency.

Bloomberg reported that lawmakers from both parties have urged the Biden administration to levy more sanctions over the pipeline.

The news agency said the administration faced criticism last month after it held off on sanctions against German entities involved in the construction of the pipeline, despite arguing that the project undermined European security.

Meanwhile, a group of Republican lawmakers has ramped up pressure on the US State Department to expand sanctions against Nord Stream 2 as Russia races to finish the disputed pipeline to take natural gas to Germany.

“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 last week.

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)

Source: energetyka24.compolitico.combloomberg.com