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Democratic senators call on Biden to sanction Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2

Democratic senators call on Biden to sanction Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2
© Greg Nash

A pair of Democratic senators are calling on the Biden administration to use all its power to stop Russia completing a gas pipeline destined for Europe, urging quick application of sanctions.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBlinken speaks with Israeli counterpart amid escalating conflict Biden sent letter to Palestinian president over 'current situations' Asian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate MORE, Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats reintroduce legislation to ban 'ghost guns' Juan Williams: A breakthrough on immigration? Biden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 MORE (D-N.J.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCongress may force Biden to stop Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline Kabul attack spurs fears over fate of Afghan women as US exits Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' MORE (D-N.H.), chair of the panel’s subcommittee on Europe, reaffirmed their opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which is under construction from Russia to Germany. 

The senators called on Blinken to accelerate efforts to build a strong sanctions package aimed at halting the pipeline construction, which is believed to be between 90 to 95 percent complete. 

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“This pipeline must be stopped and your leadership is required towards that end,” the senators wrote in a letter to Blinken.

The Biden administration has said it agrees with bipartisan consensus in Congress to oppose the pipeline. Lawmakers say the Russian project is a geopolitical threat to Europe’s stability and security and cuts Ukraine out of gas delivery that is a key economic benefit for the country. 

“We appreciate and welcome the significant effort by the professionals at the State Department, Treasury Department, and intelligence community to build sanctions cases that can withstand scrutiny in U.S. courts, " the senators continued. "We do, however, urge that the effort to build strong Nord Stream 2 sanctions packages be accelerated to meet the urgency of the moment.”

The former Trump administration on its last day in office sanctioned the Russian ship Fortuna for its involvement in the pipeline’s construction. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say there are more than a dozen entities working on the pipeline that they expect the Biden administration to sanction as required by law. 

Blinken is in Brussels meeting with leaders in NATO and the European Union and said in response to a question from a reporter there that he expects to discuss Nord Stream 2 in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Blinken warned in a statement last week that any entity working on the pipeline is at risk of sanctions.