The Biden administration has abandoned sanctions on the company and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, saying the decision was made in the U.S. national interest. It was.
Blinken waived sanctions despite Congress receiving a report from the State Department on a pipeline project. The State Department has concluded that Nord Stream 2AG and CEO Matthias Warnig, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, have taken sanctions.
State Department spokesman Ned Price previously said sanctions were just “one of many tools” available.
The State Department has imposed sanctions on four Russian vessels, including Akademik Cherskiy, who began laying pipes for the project in the Danish waters in April. It also imposed action on five other Russian entities, including the Russian Navy rescue team.
“Today’s actions show the government’s commitment to energy security in Europe, in line with the president’s promise to rebuild relations with European allies and partners,” Blinken said. Press releaseIt was issued when I first met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Iceland for a meeting of the Arctic Council.
The Trump administration had previously imposed sanctions on companies helping Russia’s state-owned energy company Gasprom build a $ 11 billion pipeline to bring gas to Europe via Germany under the Barth Sea.
Former President Donald Trump opposed the project because it would strengthen Putin’s economic and political influence over Europe. Poland is one of the most intense critics of the pipeline, significantly increasing the bargaining power of Central and Eastern European countries in the case of a supply dispute with Ukraine and Russia, which has cut fuel delivery to parts of Ukraine and Europe in the past. Will reduce. Winter during price controversy.
Many EU officials in Brussels have also expressed opposition to the project, hoping to reduce the block’s energy dependence on Russia.
US President Joe Biden has also expressed opposition to projects that bypass Ukraine and rob Ukraine of favorable transportation costs, including when he was Vice President under former President Barack Obama. The White House recently said in January that the president believed the pipeline was a “bad deal for Europe.”
The pipeline is about 95% complete, doubling the capacity of existing Nord Stream ducts that supply gas from Russia to Europe via Germany under the Baltic Sea. It is scheduled to be completed by this year.
U.S. officials will give time to discuss with Germany about the potential negative effects of the pipeline and work together on a wider range of issues that the government considers prioritized, such as pandemics, climate change, economic recovery and coping Communist Party China and Russia want to provide some power.
This move was hit by fierce opposition from both sides of the aisle.
“We are against the Biden administration’s decision to waive sanctions on NS2AG and Matthiaswanig,” Senator Bob Menendez (DN.J.) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) said in a statement.
“I urge the administration to remove Band-Aid, lift these exemptions, and proceed with the sanctions mandated by Congress,” he said.
Senator Jim Riche, a senior Republican at SFRC, said the exemption would be “a gift to Putin that would only weaken US leverage leading up to the impending Biden Putin summit.”
“Hard-working Americans are suffering from a domestic energy crisis with soaring gas prices, pump lines and empty gas stations, but President Biden says Putin is not regaining energy independence in the United States, but Putin in Russia. We are helping to promote energy development, “said Elise Stephanic (RN.Y). statement..
Stephanique said the move would have a “dangerous influence” on Russia, endangering US energy and national security, especially given Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. ..
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also commented on Twitter that if Biden couldn’t prioritize US work over climate change concerns, it shouldn’t do so for Russia.
American pipeline and work? number.
Russian pipeline and work? Okay.
President Biden, if you can’t put America first, can you at least put Russia first?
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) May 19, 2021
German Foreign Minister Mars, who spoke to Blinken on the phone, welcomed the decision and said it was “a constructive step towards a willing discussion with a Washington partner.”
The German Greens have vowed to work to end the Nord Stream 2 project prior to the next election.
Reuters contributed to this report.