Controversy over Russia’s pipeline test Biden’s approach to Europe

Washington (AP) — President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to take action to prevent the completion of Russia’s gas pipeline to Europe. However, such actions can cause major rifts, especially in transatlantic relations with Germany, when Biden prioritizes restoring good relations with Europe.

As the Nord Stream 2 pipeline nears completion, US lawmakers from both parties have increased demands on the reluctant White House to impose new sanctions on Russian and European companies to suspend the project. However, it seems unlikely that such a situation will occur. Germany continues to support projects to increase natural gas consumption, with the pipeline being approximately 95% complete.

Mr Biden said he opposes the pipeline owned by Russian state-owned company Gazprom with investments from several European companies. He is keen to describe Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as tough and is a strong supporter of Eastern European countries such as Poland and Ukraine, bypassing both.

As a potential major concern for the United States, the Russian-German pipeline has increased the reliance on Russia’s energy in Western Europe, and tensions between the United States and Russia have led to Ukraine, election interference, cyber invasion, crackdowns, etc. Soaring with many problems. Opposition figure Alexei Navalny and his supporters.

At the same time, the administration has broadly supported Europe, especially from the continent’s economic power, Germany, for its planned withdrawal from Afghanistan, climate change measures, and efforts to counter China’s increasingly globalized claims. I am seeking. It is not clear whether sanctions on companies in Germany and elsewhere will advance these goals disputed during President Donald Trump’s term and undermine efforts to restore relations.

On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a law requiring the administration to impose sanctions on 20 companies involved in the financing and construction of pipelines or explain why they deserve an exemption. .. In January, the Trump administration attacked and penalized several Russian companies for their involvement, but Biden has not expanded the list.

The bill was sponsored by voice management critic Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas. However, it also gained support from Biden’s strongest Democratic foreign policy supporters in the Senate, including New Jersey Chairman Bob Menendez, Delaware’s Chris Coons, and New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen.

“For now, seeing Putin trying to get rid of his biggest opposition leader, Navalny, in prison, if we’re going to get his attention, the best shot we can do is Nord Stream. 2 I think it’s about stopping the pipeline. “

Democrats have agreed to support sanctions after the Republicans have promised to oppose the two top candidates for Biden’s state ministry. Bipartisan support suggests that the administration will be forced to ignore it. Biden had already been criticized in February for not expanding the Trump administration’s sanctions.

“We share an overall attitude towards Nord Stream 2 with many at Capitol Hill, and we are in a position to be a bad deal,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. A law already in the book to oppose its construction and finalization. “

However, the administration has not yet taken a position on the new bill. We believe the bill is likely to be passed by parliamentary aides on either side of the aisle. Biden decides whether to sanction 20 companies and vessels within 15 days of transit.

Sanctions applied to German, Russian, Polish and Austrian entities can freeze assets, make it difficult to do business internationally and affect executives.

Even if Biden vetoes the bill, he faces another deadline for action that the State Department must submit to Congress in mid-May. Construction of a pipeline that bypasses both Poland and Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended Germany’s cooperation with Russia on Nord Stream 2.

“I would like to point out that the gas supplied through Nord Stream 2, which has not yet flowed, is no worse than the gas from Nord Stream 1 flowing through Ukraine and the gas passing through Turkey from Russia,” says Merkel. It was.

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