GOP Senators Threaten to Block Treasury Nominees Unless Biden Admin Reverses Nord Stream 2 Policy
08:13 GMT 29.07.2021 (Updated: 14:43 GMT 29.07.2021)
© REUTERS / Anton VaganovFILE PHOTO: Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019
© REUTERS / Anton Vaganov
Last Wednesday, Washington and Berlin announced a bilateral compromise deal on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as they agreed to allow the project to proceed without the threat of US sanctions.
A group of Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee has threatened to block two Treasury nominees unless the Biden administration changes their stance on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the 12 Republicans, including Pat Toomey, Richard Shelby, Mike Crapo, Tim Scott, Mike Rounds, Thom Tillis, John Kennedy, Bill Hagerty, Cynthia Lummis, Jerry Moran, Kevin Cramer, and Steve Daines, claimed the project "directly harms the national security interests of the United States and our allies and partners".
The senators argued that "if completed, this [Nord Stream 2] project will increase [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's malign influence over Europe" and "destabilise Ukraine's fragile security […]".
© Photo : Nord Stream 2 / Paul LangrockWork on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline.
Work on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline.
© Photo : Nord Stream 2 / Paul Langrock
"We urge you to reverse course on Nord Stream 2 and join us in Congress' long-standing defence of European allies and partners from malign Russian aggression", they added, pledging to oppose the nominations of Brian Nelson and Elizabeth Rosenberg unless their demands are met.
The letter ends with the Republicans thanking Yellen for "considering this urgent national security matter". The lawmakers did not elaborate on the accusations of "aggression" against Russia, while Treasury Department officials have not yet commented on the matter.
US-German Deal on Nord Stream 2
The remarks followed Germany and the US signing a deal last week to permit the unhindered completion of Nord Stream 2. Washington committed to refraining from sanctions against the gas project, while Germany pledged to "utilise all available leverage to facilitate an extension of up to 10 years to Ukraine's gas transit agreement with Russia".
The deal underscored the two's resolve "to hold Russia to account for its aggression […]", adding that Germany "will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions, to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector […]", if Moscow tries "to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine".
© Sputnik / Ekaterina SolovievaConstruction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany
Construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany
© Sputnik / Ekaterina Solovieva/
The Russian president's spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasised that the Kremlin does not subscribe to this point of view.
"We categorically disagree with this wording. Neither in Ukraine nor beyond its borders, has there ever been any aggression by Russia. Russia has not engaged in any harmful actions. And it is not engaged in them", Peskov told reporters.
He also stressed that "Russia has always been and remains a responsible guarantor of energy security on the European continent, or I would even say on a wider, global scale".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her part, asserted that the Berlin-Washington deal on Nord Stream 2 does not resolve bilateral differences on the project, but that it marks a step forward.
The Nord Stream 2 project, which is 99 percent completed, provides for the construction of a 745-mile offshore twin pipeline aimed to supply up to 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas per year from Russia directly to Germany.
The US and its allies, including Poland and Ukraine, have repeatedly urged the EU to abandon the project, citing the bloc's purported overdependence on Moscow.
The Biden administration earlier waived sanctions against Nord Stream 2, saying that Washington had decided not to disrupt the pipeline's construction because it realised that sanctions would not work and because it wanted to avoid alienating Germany.
Russia has repeatedly underlined that the project is entirely commercial, urging critics to stop politicising Nord Stream 2.