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Blinken Assures Congress Of Biden's Opposition To Nord Stream 2


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has assured members of Congress that the Biden administration opposes the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and said the administration continues to review further sanctions.

Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that President Joe Biden thinks the nearly completed pipeline was a "bad idea" and had "been clear on this for some time."

He added that the United States, which has already placed sanctions on companies involved in building the pipeline, was "making clear that we stand against its completion...and we continue to review other possibilities for sanctions going forward."

Nord Stream 2 is designed to reroute Russian natural-gas exports to Europe under the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine.

Congress opposes the pipeline on the grounds that it strengthens the Kremlin's hold on Europe's energy industry and hurts Ukraine, which stands to lose billions of dollars in annual transit fees.

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Senate Republicans have been pressuring the Biden administration to impose sanctions on more companies involved in the project.

At the same time it has called the pipeline a "bad idea," the Biden administration is also reportedly concerned about the impact additional sanctions would have on U.S. relations with Germany, which has defended the pipeline as a commercial project.

Legislation passed by Congress in 2019 placing sanctions on vessels laying the pipeline halted the project for more than a year, but Russia resumed construction with its own ships.

That pushed Congress to pass new legislation last year widening the sanctions to include companies engaging generally in Nord Stream 2 activities, including those that insure and certify the project.

The legislation required the administration to update Congress on the status of the project and impose sanctions on any companies in violation. In its update last month the Biden administration identified only one vessel and its owner, which were already under sanction. Meanwhile, some media reports have identified at least a dozen companies involved in the construction.

In a letter to Biden last week, 40 Senate Republicans called the update "completely inadequate" and demanded the administration place sanctions on the additional companies "without delay."

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee also asked Blinken about Moscow's involvement in Venezuela and Cuba. He said the United States had seen a resurgence of Russian presence and activity in the two countries, and "we're very attentive to that across the board."

With reporting by Reuters
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