Blinken warns of possible sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concludes his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on January 27, 2021.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a warning Thursday against ongoing construction efforts to complete a contentious Russian gas pipeline directed toward Europe, saying such entities involved in completing the pipeline are vulnerable to sanctions.

The Biden administration opposes completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that is meant to transit the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, but has held back from imposing far reaching sanctions mandated by Congress. 

“The [State] Department reiterates its warning that any entity involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks U.S. sanctions and should immediately abandon work on the pipeline,” the secretary said. 

“As multiple U.S. administrations have made clear, this pipeline is a Russian geopolitical project intended to divide Europe and weaken European energy security. The sanctions legislation Congress passed in 2019 and expanded in 2020 has significant support from a bipartisan Congressional majority,” he added, and said the administration is committed to complying with the legislation.  

Blinken’s predecessor, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, issued sanctions against the main pipe-laying Russian vessel Fortuna on his last day in office, Jan. 19.

But Republicans in Congress say they have identified at least 15 entities involved in construction that should be considered for the sanctions list and have called on Blinken to take action. 

The statement from the secretary also comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s interference in the 2020 U.S. elections, its cyber hacking attack on the SolarWinds software and compromising government agencies and hundreds of companies, and an escalating war of words between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Russia recalled its ambassador to the U.S. following remarks by Biden during an interview with ABC News earlier this week, where the president answered in the affirmative if he thought Putin is a killer and said he warned the Russian leader that he would take action against his attacks on the U.S.

“I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared,” Biden said in the interview relaying what he told Putin in a phone conversation they held in January. 

Putin responded to Biden’s remarks Thursday by saying in effect “it-takes-one-to-know-one,” The Associated Press reported, in reference to America’s history with the murder and displacement of Native Americans, slavery and racial tensions.  

Tags Antony Blinken Joe Biden Mike Pompeo Vladimir Putin

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