Vote on Nord Stream 2 sanctions puts Democrats in a bind

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Ukrainian government is solicit in public Senator Senator to vote for bill approving Ted Cruz’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline Call The project poses “no less existential threat to our security” than Russian troops on its border.

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Why this matters: With US officials in Europe slated for talks with Russia this week, Democrats face an uncomfortable choice – either buck President Biden or vote against sanctions on the pipeline they have long publicly opposed. has done. This decision has come at a time of crisis for Ukraine.

big picture: Nord Stream 2, which is fully built but still awaiting regulatory approval, will bypass Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian natural gas directly to Germany.

  • Successive US presidents have opposed the pipeline, which the Biden administration has called a “harmful Russian geopolitical project” that could allow the Kremlin to coerce Ukraine or use energy as a weapon.
  • But Biden struck a deal with Germany to waive sanctions on the company that completed construction on the pipeline. He argued that the pipeline was already 98% done, and that it was important to improve relations with Germany after years of tensions under the Trump administration.
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How we got here: Nord Stream 2 After Cruz Becomes One of Biden Administration’s Biggest Headaches in Congress started a campaign To hold all State Department nominees until restrictions are put in place in August.

  • In late December, Cruz reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.) to release his hold on 32 nominees in exchange for the Senate holding a vote on Nord Stream 2 restrictions until January 14. Was.
  • Assuming that all Republicans vote in favour, the bill requires 10 Senate Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold for passage.

What are they saying: State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week that Cruz’s bill “is not, in our estimation, a genuine attempt to counter the Russian aggression or defend Ukraine.”

  • Sen. Jean Shaheen (D.N.H.), a top lawyer for Ukraine in Congress and co-author of the previous Nord Stream 2 sanctions legislation, told Nerdshala she shares Ukrainians’ concerns – but Cruz’s bill is “reassuring.” No” is the best way forward.
  • “The dynamics have changed,” Shaheen said, arguing that the US should continue diplomacy with Germany “to prevent Putin from acquiring a weapon that threatens the wider security of Europe.”
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Second aspect: While Ukraine wants the project to be finished now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top Biden officials say it is now in limbo, with no gas flowing yet, it is “leverage” for the US and Europe. is a source of.

  • A senior State Department official told Nerdshala that it was “unthinkable” that Nord Stream 2 would be turned on if Russia invades Ukraine, and insisted it would “stop Russian aggression across the board” in the trans-Atlantic region. Unity is “essential.”
  • The official said a spike in trans-Atlantic ties right now “would send the wrong signal to Vladimir Putin, at a particularly wrong time.”

Between the lines: The Biden administration and Democrats often cite “trans-Atlantic unity” as a major reason not to approve Nord Stream 2, but some supporters of the project remain outside Europe. Germany’s ruling Social Democrats,

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholzo have called Nord Stream 2 is a “private sector project” and sought to separate it from proposals to deter Russian aggression.
  • Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a fellow Social Democrat, is now chairman of the boards of Russian energy company Rosneft and Nord Stream 2.
  • “Almost all of Europe and even half german government are opposed to NS2,” a source close to the Ukrainian side told Nerdshala. Stream 2 has to be approved.

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