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Senator Cruz puts Biden’s CIA head pick on hold, demands Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Republican Senator Ted Cruz put a hold late on Friday on President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to pressure the administration to place tough sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, Reuters reported.

“I’ll release my hold when the Biden admin meets its legal obligation to report and sanction the ships and companies building [Russia President Vladimir] Putin’s pipeline. Follow the law. Stop being soft on Russia,” Cruz wrote on Twitter late on Friday. The move was first reported by Bloomberg.

Mr Cruz’s spokesperson Jessica Skaggs commented on the senator’s decision saying that he had been publicly and privately promising to use all his legal powers to ensure that Biden’s administration puts sanctions on the ships and firms tasked with building Nord Stream 2.

According to Bloomberg, Mr Cruz’s spanner would not jeopardise but merely delay former US Ambassador to Russia and professional diplomat William Burns’ appointment as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director. Mr Burns was unanimously supported by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

As many as 40 republican senators signed a letter to President Biden calling on the Democrat’s administration to correct erroneous action by full implementation of sanctions allowed by US law. According to the Republicans, the US should put sanctions on all entities engaged in the construction of NS2.

Failing to do so, according to the senators, would imply a readiness to allow President Putin control over gas supplies to Europe and increasing Russia’s influence on the continent.

The February report of the US Department of State caused discontent amongst Republican members of the Congress, which has not implemented new sanctions against entities engaged in the construction of the NS2. The list of sanctioned entities was expanded by the Russian pipe-laying vessel “Fortuna” and its proprietor KWT-Rus.

The Republicans plead the legal instruments ensured by the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA). According to the senators, Biden’s administration can publish a temporary report that names all the embroiled companies and sanctions them. However, the US Department of State spokesperson said on Thursday that the entities engaged in the NS2 pipeline were still being scrutinised.

US President Biden has previously described the Russian-German project as disadvantageous to Europe and its energy security.

Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic States and the US opposed the construction of the NS2 pipeline while Germany, Austria and several other EU states endorse it.

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