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US Republicans push for Nord Stream 2 sanctions

November 9, 2021

A group of Republicans in the US Senate has criticized the pipeline, calling it a detriment to US allies in Europe. President Joe Biden waived sanctions on the project earlier this year.

Workers in Germany have welded the last pipe of the Nord Stream 2 project
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has been a source of tension between Germany and the USImage: Axel Schmidt/Nord Stream 2

A group of Republicans in the US Senate has proposed a legislative amendment to implement mandatory sanctions on the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The senators argue that the pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany, would be harmful for US allies in the region, such as Ukraine.

What do we know so far?

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would force US President Joe Biden to sanction Nord Stream 2 AG, the Kremlin-owned firm in charge of the pipeline. 

Biden waived the sanctions on the pipeline earlier this year as part of an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom said last month that the pipeline has already been completed. 

Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced the amendment last week. Other notable senators backing the amendment include Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

What did the senators say about the pipeline?

Senator Risch said Russia has cut gas transit through Ukraine since Biden waived sanctions and added that Russia has also engaged in a military buildup on the Ukrainian border.

"So long as the administration continues to ignore the will of Congress, we will continue to push legislation that protects our allies and interests in Europe, while countering the Kremlin's malign influence projects," Risch said.

Russia wants Nord Stream 2 switched on

Ohio Senator Rob Portman, another backer of the amendment, said the sanctions are "crucial to supporting European independence and energy security."

Wisconsin Senate Republican Ron Johnson said the amendment will "serve as a check on Putin's malign activities," a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition to Ukraine, EU member state Poland has also criticized the pipeline as detrimental to European energy security. Germany, however, recently said the certification of the project would not threaten the EU's energy supply.

wd/nm (Reuters, dpa)