The Biden administration is reportedly waiving sanctions on the Russian company in charge of building the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany.
Finishing Nord Stream 2 would be a major geopolitical win for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Russian gas must flow through Ukraine to get to Germany as things stand now. Nord Stream 2 would allow Russia to bypass Ukraine to get gas to Europe, further isolating its neighboring foe in Kyiv.
In the context of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and European reliance on Russian gas, the pipeline is widely deemed to be a security risk and a means for Russia to increase its leverage on European countries. Former President Donald Trump approved sanctions to deter its completion, citing these concerns. Notably, Trump — not President Joe Biden — is often characterized as being on Russia’s side.
The decision is a sign that Biden is unwilling to cross allies in Germany in order to put a stop to the pipeline, according to Axios, which cited two sources briefed on the issue. The State Department is preparing to send a 90-day report to Congress outlining which entities involved with the pipeline deserve sanctions.
NEW: President Biden plans to waive sanctions on the Russian-owned company in charge of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline https://t.co/cdRWmBoojn
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) May 18, 2021
Included on that list will be several Russian ships as well as Nord Stream 2 AG, the corporate entity in charge of building the pipeline, and its CEO. Despite having been engaged in “sanctionable activity,” the State Department will reportedly waive sanctions against the company and CEO due to “U.S. national interests.”
In his Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “determined to do whatever we can to prevent that completion” of the pipeline. (RELATED: Vladimir Putin Challenges Joe Biden To A Live Debate Over ‘Killer’ Comments)
Axios reported that Biden officials believe the only way to stop construction of the pipeline, which is already 95% complete, is to sanction the German users of the gas. The administration is reportedly unwilling to take such a drastic step that could jeopardize its relationship with the key European ally.