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U.S. Waives Sanctions On Company Overseeing Nord Stream 2 Construction


Workers in Russia's Leningrad region attend to a section of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is now almost complete. (file photo)
Workers in Russia's Leningrad region attend to a section of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is now almost complete. (file photo)

The United States will not impose new sanctions on the company in charge of the undersea Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline or its CEO, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has said in a report sent to Congress.

Blinken said additional sanctions will be waived for reasons of "national interest."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters earlier that the May 19 report listed sanctions against a number of entities.

But he said there were "presidential waivers" for the company running the project, Nord Stream 2 AG, and its chief executive, Matthias Warnig, a German citizen and ally of President Vladimir Putin.

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"We perceive this to be a constructive step that we will gladly continue to discuss with our partners in Washington," said Maas, who said he spoke to Blinken about the issue.

The pipeline connecting Russia and Germany, which is about 95 percent completed and could be finished by September, has come under fierce criticism from Washington.

U.S. officials warn it will make Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies. The pipeline will markedly increase the amount of natural gas that Russia will be able to pump directly to Germany, bypassing Eastern European transit countries like Ukraine and Belarus.

The German government has refused to halt the project, arguing that it is a commercial venture.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended it, saying that Russian gas already flows freely into Europe along other routes, including an existing Baltic Sea pipeline.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has been under pressure from members of Congress, including some Democrats, to hit the Baltic Sea project with financial penalties.

Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat-New Hampshire), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said she was disappointed about the waivers.

"I've made it clear to the Biden administration from Day 1 that every effort should be made to prevent completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline," she said.

Jim Risch (Idaho), the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the waivers will be "a gift to Putin."

Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom is the majority shareholder in the company.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said waiving the sanctions would be seen as positive in Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency. But he told a news briefing that "no bilateral consultations on the matter are under way with the Americans."

Supporters say the U.S. opposition is grounded in its interest in selling more of its own liquefied gas to Europe.

Washington has already imposed sanctions on a Russian company, KVT-RUS, which operates the pipe-laying vessel Fortuna.

That measure was announced by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump shortly before the end of his term in January.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, dpa, Interfax, and AP
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