According to a State Department report delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the Biden administration eased sanctions against the business behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas project to Germany and its CEO.
Per a State Department document handed to Congress on Wednesday, the Biden administration relaxed sanctions against the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project to Germany, as well as its CEO.
The action comes as the Biden administration strives to repair relations with Germany after they soured under Republican former President Donald Trump. The waivers have no set expiration date, but they can be revoked by the secretary of state at any time.
Democratic President Joe Biden opposes the $11 billion project that would transport Russian gas from the Arctic to Germany, calling it a lousy bargain for Europe.
Democratic Vice President Joe Biden has spoken out against the $11 billion venture that would carry Russian gas from the Arctic to Germany, calling it a bad deal for Europe.
Russia’s main energy corporation, Gazprom, and its Western partners are rushing to complete the pipeline that would transport gas underneath the Baltic Sea. The project, which is nearly finished, would bypass Ukraine, depriving it of valuable transit payments and perhaps undermining its fight against Russian aggression.
Analysts predict that if construction continues at its current pace, it will be completed by the end of the year, if not sooner.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed the move.
“We see this as a constructive step, which we are happy to further discuss with our partners in Washington,” Maas told reporters.
Yuriy Vitrenko, the new CEO of Ukraine’s state-owned energy business Naftogaz, stated that Nord Stream 2 is Russia’s “most harmful and dangerous geopolitical initiative,” and that Ukraine would push Washington to properly enforce its laws and implement sanctions to halt the pipeline.
Russian officials said on Wednesday that the move to lift sanctions may help repair Washington’s strained relationship with Moscow.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, expressed disappointment with the waivers after consulting with a Biden administration official. “Every available tool to prevent its completion should be used,” she added of the pipeline.
The exemptions, according to Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be “a gift to Putin that will further diminish the United States’ clout in the run-up to the looming Biden-Putin meeting.”
The lifting of sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO would eliminate one barrier in US-German relations, and US officials believe it will give some leverage to strengthen cooperation on wider concerns such as China and Russia.