Administration

Biden defends waiving sanctions against Nord Stream

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President Biden on Tuesday defended his administration’s decision not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline, citing the project’s near completion.
 
“It’s almost completely finished,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday as he left the White House for a funeral in Wilmington, Delaware. “To go ahead and impose sanctions now, I think is counter-productive in terms of our European relations.”

Biden clarified that he’s opposed the pipeline since it was first announced. Critics have argued it will give Russia significant leverage over the energy market in parts of Europe.

The Biden administration last week announced Nord Stream 2 and its CEO, Matthias Warnig, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had engaged in sanctionable activity, but that neither would face penalties for national security reasons.

The administration reportedly made the decision to avoid straining Washington’s relationship with Germany, which the natural gas pipeline is set to pass through. Reports said U.S. officials had determined it would not be possible to halt construction of the pipeline without also sanctioning German entities.

The decision has drawn scrutiny from Republicans who believe it shows Biden is capitulating to Russia, as well as some Democrats.

“The administration has said that the pipeline is a bad idea and that it is a Russian malign influence project. I share that sentiment, but fail to see how today’s decision will advance U.S. efforts to counter Russian aggression in Europe,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been under construction for the last several years and provides parts of northern Germany with gas from Russia. The deal has drawn criticism from European and U.S. leaders, who worry it provides Russia with influence over energy in Western Europe. 

Biden is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in the United Kingdom. He will also meet with Putin in Switzerland next month. The pipeline project is likely to come up at both meetings.

Tags Bob Menendez Germany Joe Biden Nord Stream Russia sanctions Vladimir Putin

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