The Biden administration has abandoned sanctions on companies building controversial gas pipelines between Russia and Germany.
The United States has also lifted sanctions on its allies by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who leads the company behind the Nord Stream 2 project.
The move is included in a report on Russian sanctions submitted by the State Department to Parliament on Wednesday.
Critics say the pipeline is the Kremlin’s major geopolitical award.
More than 95% of the projects to bring gas from the Russian Arctic under the Baltic Sea to Germany have already been completed.
The State Department reported that Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, former East German intelligence agent Matthias Warnig, were engaged in sanctions.
However, he concludes that it is in the US national interest to waive sanctions.
The State Department also imposed sanctions on four Russian vessels involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, but critics said it was not enough to stop the pipeline.
President Joe Biden said he would oppose the $ 11 billion (£ 7.8 billion) project. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said at a confirmation hearing that “I have decided to do whatever I can to prevent its completion” of Nord Stream 2.
How is the reaction of the world?
On Wednesday, the best American diplomat met his Russian correspondent at the International Summit in Iceland.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and the United States have “serious differences” but should cooperate “in areas where our interests conflict.”
Blinken said Biden wanted “a predictable and stable relationship with Russia.”
Former Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the imminent report of US sanctions exemptions was a “positive sign.”
Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was also reportedly welcoming the state-owned TASS news agency “an opportunity for a gradual transition towards normalization of bilateral relations.”
German officials also welcomed the abandonment of sanctions as a “constructive step” from the Biden administration.
“It’s a sign of the fact that Germany is an important partner for the United States and a reliable partner in the future,” Heiko Maas told reporters.
However, Yury Vitrenko, CEO of Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Naftogaz, said Kiev would put pressure on Washington to impose sanctions to shut down the pipeline.
Nord Stream was Russia’s most “dangerous geopolitical project,” Vitrenko said.
What about the political reaction in the United States?
The Biden administration’s decision was criticized by Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a member of the president’s own party.
“I urge the administration to strip Band-Aid, lift these exemptions, and proceed with parliamentary sanctions,” a New Jersey Democrat said in a statement.
He added that he could not understand “how today’s decision advances US efforts to counter Russia’s aggression in Europe.”
Republicans in the US Congress have also accused the waiver.
“It’s a gift to Putin that only undermines US influence leading up to the impending Biden-Putin summit,” said Jim Riche, a top Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“If the Putin administration was allowed to end the pipeline, it was because the Biden administration chose to do so,” said Michael McCaul, the Republican Foreign Prime Minister of the House of Representatives.
“This is Russia’s malicious impact project, which deepens Europe’s dependence on Moscow, makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russia’s invasion, and threatens to provide billions of dollars to Putin’s vault.”
When Mr Biden took office, he sought to contrast himself with his predecessor Donald Trump, saying that he would no longer “capsize in the face of Russia’s aggressive behavior.” I swore.
However, analysts say the US president was reluctant to risk a transatlantic rift with Germany when he was trying to reach out to his European allies.
It was after Biden was accused in January of canceling the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States because of the need to combat climate change.
The project was predicted to create tens of thousands of jobs.