A new push by the opposition for stricter sanctions against the gas pipeline failed to achieve a majority in the US Senate. Some Democrats also voted in favor of the draft.
In the Senate, another bill for increased sanctions against the controversial Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream has failed. 2 As expected, Republican Senator Ted Cruz's move did not achieve the required majority of 60 of the 100 votes in a vote in the Congress Chamber.
However, some senators from the ranks of US President Joe Biden's Democrats also voted with their Republican colleagues.
Cruz's draft provided for the imposition of punitive measures against the pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG within 15 days. At the same time, the text was intended to limit President Biden's powers so that he can no longer grant exceptions to sanctions with reference to national security interests.
Republicans are pushing for more action
The pipeline, which has already been completed but has not yet gone into operation, is intended to bring Russian gas to Germany while bypassing the Ukraine. The project has met with widespread rejection in the United States:
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the Biden government and parliamentarians from both parties see Nord Stream 2 as a geopolitical instrument of power in the hands of the Kremlin. Biden's Democrats and the opposition Republicans are arguing about the correct way to deal with the pipeline.
Last May, Biden waived an exception to sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its German managing director Matthias Warnig so as not to strain relations with Germany. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said at the time that a waiver of the punitive measures was "in the national interest of the United States".
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Republicans like Ted Cruz then pushed for further sanctions to be imposed to prevent the pipeline from being put into operation. An attempt by the conservative senator to anchor the sanctions in the new defense budget passed at the end of last year failed. However, Cruz was able to ensure that the text of his law was now voted on.
As a means of pressure, he had blocked the confirmation of numerous ambassadors nominated by Biden, including the designated ambassador to Germany, Amy Gutmann.
"Berlin can still do the right thing"
The Senate debate came amid fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion of Ukraine. "This law is the best way to stop Putin from invading Ukraine," Cruz said before the vote.
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"If we don't get together today, Ukraine threatens to be completely erased from the map." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appealed to the federal government to stop the project: "Berlin can still do the right thing."
Biden's Democrats, on the other hand, argued that the sanctions law would neither stop Nord Stream 2 from being commissioned nor prevent Russia from invading Ukraine. Rather, the law would be "a gift to Russia" because it would drive a wedge between the US and its European allies, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the West could use Nord Stream 2 as "leverage" to stop Putin from invading Ukraine.
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However, with the failure of the legislative proposal, new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 are not yet off the table. The Democrats have introduced their own bill in the Senate, which provides for a series of sanctions against Russia should Russian forces invade Ukraine.
Sanctions should then not only be imposed on Putin, Russian government members and banks, but also on all companies and their executives involved in the “planning, construction or operation” of Nord Stream 2. The US government argues that the threat of sanctions in the event of an invasion of Ukraine is more effective than sanctions imposed before a possible invasion.
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