US Senate bill aims to block Nord Stream 2
US senator Ted Cruz said April 21 that part of a bill meant to support Ukraine in fending off Russian aggression should block the controversial second string of the Nord Stream gas pipeline from completion.
By a voice vote, the Senate foreign relations committee advanced a bill that appropriates some $300mn through fiscal years 2022 and 2026 to support Ukrainian defense needs. An amendment to the broader Ukraine Security Partnership Act authored by Cruz, a Republican representing Texas, identifies some 20 companies and ships that could be subject to sanctions for their role in the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
“My amendment should remove any hope among the companies building Nord Stream 2 that they can avoid accountability,” Cruz said.
The US state department issued a statement March 18 warning that "any entity involved in the Nord Steam 2 pipeline risks US sanctions and should immediately abandon work on the pipeline."
The US sanctions regime aims to punish companies involved in Nord Stream 2's installation, certification and insurance. Around 20 companies, mostly insurers, have reportedly left the project in recent months in response to the threat.
The Kremlin has sought to wrestle Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, away from a Western embrace, annexing its Crimean peninsula in 2014. Speaking April 22, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying foreign interference in Ukraine was a “red line” for Moscow.
The Nord Stream network carries natural gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany. Western powers argue it does little to advance European energy security objectives and starves Ukraine of transit fees from the Soviet-era pipelines advancing west through its territory. Nord Stream 2 is nearly completed.
For the measure to go into force, the US bill needs to go through the full congressional machinery before it would land on president Joe Biden's desk for his signature.