US spares ally Germany in sanctions on Nord Stream pipeline – WBOY.com
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) – The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Russian companies and ships for their work on a European gas pipeline that the United States categorically opposes, but President Joe Biden has angered many Democratic lawmakers and Republicans by choosing not to punish German. company supervising the project.
The lifting of penalties on the German ally in the Nord Stream 2 project was “in line with our commitment to strengthen our transatlantic relationship as a matter of national security,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The United States has fought for years to block the pipeline, now 95% complete, although construction has yet to begin on its German section. The pipeline will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany, increasing Russia’s influence as a vital energy supplier in Europe. The United States argues that the pipeline threatens European energy security, strengthens Russian influence and poses risks to Ukraine and Poland by bypassing the two countries.
Critics of the pipeline had hoped to stop it by targeting the German company and its leader.
Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has spoken out against Biden’s waiver of Germany. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, senior committee member, Democrat from New Hampshire, said the pipeline “allows Russia to further extend its malignant influence.”
“Oh, my God, allow Russia!” Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, exclaimed at the decision. “Joe Biden, thank you very much for allowing Russia to export their goods,” she said sarcastically.
Blinken said the Biden administration will continue to fight the pipeline. âOur opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is unwavering,â he said.
Biden’s administration has focused on strengthening alliances at the international level to deal with foreign policy challenges. US relations with Germany have been disrupted by President Donald Trump’s frequent clashes with Germany and other European allies and by Trump’s enthusiasm for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who spoke to Blinken by phone on Tuesday, welcomed the decision regarding the German interests involved.
“We see this as a constructive step which we will gladly continue to discuss with our partners in Washington,” Maas told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.
The administration made the sanctions public as Blinken prepared to sit in Iceland for his first face-to-face meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Their meeting was already expected to be arguments amid a sharp deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow.
The sanctions designated eight Russian ships and companies. The German company, Nord Stream 2 AG, and its German managing director have also been identified as violating US law. But Biden is using presidential authority to lift sanctions against them under a national interest exemption in the legislation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the project, noting that Russian gas already flows freely in Europe along other routes, including the existing Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany.
Nord Stream 2 is owned by Russian state-owned Gazprom, with investments from several European companies. Domestic critics in Germany have argued that the pipeline should be scrapped due to Russia’s treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
By choosing not to hit Germany with sanctions and focusing on Russian companies, the administration has escalated a battle with lawmakers, some of whom have now suspended the appointments of several of the administration’s picks for positions. high-level officials at the State Department and threaten to block others. .
In Germany, the two main contenders for Merkel’s succession after the general election on September 26 in the country have contrasting positions on the pipeline.
Lee reported from Reykjavik, Iceland. Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press editors Lisa Mascaro in Washington and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.