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New US sanctions on NS2 bypass main company constructing it

The US authorities immediately suspended previously imposed sanctions on the main company constructing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its CEO. The decision has been criticised by members of Congress from both parties.

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In a report sent to Congress, the State Department identified four Russian vessels and four other entities that will be sanctioned. Sanctions also initially extended to Nord Stream 2 AG, responsible for the project, and its CEO Matthias Waring, but these were suspended by the State Department for “national security interests.”

The decision of Joe Biden’s administration was criticised by Republican Senator Jim Risch, who called it “a gift for Putin.” Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen also expressed her disappointment with the decision of the State Department, stressing that all measures should be used to stop the construction of the pipeline.

.@POTUS and @SecBlinken are handing #Putin a gift by waiving sanctions on the company responsible for the #NordStream2 project.

My full statement below:

— Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member (@SenateForeign) May 19, 2021

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki ensured, however, that the US President Joe Biden still considers Nord Stream 2 a Russian geopolitical project that threatens the energy security of Europe, Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flank.

“This position is shared by some of our European allies and even by serious forces inside Germany. We are determined to use economic and diplomatic tools to prevent the construction from being completed,” she said, answering a question from a Polish Radio correspondent in Washington DC during a virtual briefing for foreign journalists.

A spokeswoman for the White House added that the US monitors entities involved in the project on account of activity qualifying for the imposition of sanctions. She warned that companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project risk US sanctions being imposed on them.

The construction of the Russian-German gas pipeline is strongly opposed by Poland and the Baltic States. Critics of Nord Stream 2 indicate that the project would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and extend the Kremlin’s influence over European politics.

On Tuesday, the website reported that “the [Joe] Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany” in order to not undermine the US relations with the country. Sanctions would, however, affect Russian ships participating in the construction.

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