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U.S. Senators Urge Biden To Follow Through On Pipeline Sanctions


About 150 kilometers of pipe must still be laid to complete the controversial Nord Stream 2 project controlled by the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom. (file photo)

Two U.S. senators have urged President Joe Biden to ensure the implementation of sanctions aimed at stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas-pipeline project from Russia to Germany.

Senators Jim Risch (Republican-Idaho) and Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat-New Hampshire) urged the State Department in a letter on February 12 not to delay issuing a report to Congress required under sanctions passed last month in the annual defense policy bill.

The report, due by February 16, will identify companies involved in constructing, insuring, and verifying Nord Stream 2. The law requires the companies listed in the report to be sanctioned.

The letter made reference to "press reports that the German government has put forth an offer that would require the United States to disregard statutorily mandated sanctions."

Risch and Shaheen didn’t provide details, but reports in German media have said Germany sought to cut a deal with the Trump administration to let the nearly completed pipeline be finished.

An environmental and consumer protection group said on February 9 that the German government offered financial support of up to 1 billion euros ($1.21 billion) to invest in facilities for the import of U.S. liquefied natural gas. The Trump administration pushed U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas as an alternative to Russian gas.

According to a document published by the Environmental Action Germany (DUH), German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz offered funding in August. In return, Washington was asked to permit the "unhindered construction and operation of Nord Stream 2.

'A Dirty Deal'

Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, the DUH executive director, called it a "scandal" and a "dirty deal at the expense of third parties." The German Finance Ministry has not commented on the matter.

State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated on February 12 that the United States sees the pipeline project as a "bad deal" for Europe.

"It's a bad deal because it divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine, and Central Europe to Russian manipulation. It goes against Europe's own stated energy and security goals," Price said.

But he said "sanctions are only one" of many tools, and that the department will work closely with allies and partners to reinforce European energy security and safeguard against "predatory behavior."

About 150 kilometers of pipe transiting Danish and German waters of the Baltic Sea must be laid to complete the pipeline controlled by the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

The pipeline is intended to carry 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from Russia to Germany, but work was halted in December following the threat of sanctions from Washington.

The pipeline would affect Ukraine by depriving it of transit fees from existing pipelines that transverse its territory.

With reporting by Reuters and Bloomberg
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