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Senate Democrats Reportedly Mull Rejecting Ted Cruz's Bill on New Anti-Nord Stream 2 Sanctions

© REUTERS / Maxim ShemetovFILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.01.2022
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is leading the GOP's efforts to try to stop Nord Stream 2 from starting to deliver Russian gas to Europe. In December, he issued a statement arguing that there was still time to disrupt the pipeline despite the project having been completed and currently awaiting certification.
Top Senate Democrats, who have long backed sanctions against Nord Stream 2, "signalled a significant shift in their posture" on Wednesday, ahead of next week's vote on GOP Senator Ted Cruz's bill for new restrictive measures against the pipeline, Politico reports.

According to the news outlet, the Democrats fear the bill "would undercut" President Joe Biden as he "seeks to project unity with European allies" in the run-up to the upcoming talks between Russia, the US, and NATO on security guarantees.

The ministerial negotiations, which are scheduled for early next week in Vienna and Geneva, come as the US and its Western allies continue to accuse Moscow of amassing troops near Russia's border with Ukraine, which, the West claims, allegedly indicates the Kremlin's push for an invasion.
© REUTERS / HANNIBAL HANSCHKEThe landfall facility of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 is pictured in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020
The landfall facility of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 is pictured in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.01.2022
The landfall facility of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 is pictured in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020
Moscow rejects the accusations as unsubstantiated, saying that Russian troop movements are purely defensive given NATO's growing activity near Russia's borders, and that the country has the right to deploy forces within its own territory at its discretion.

Politico argues that Cruz's draft legislation may "fall short of the 60-vote threshold" next week.

The news outlet quotes Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) as saying that "at this point it's very important, as we're looking at potential Russian action in Ukraine, for us to work very closely with our allies, and Germany is one of those very important allies. And so I think the amendment is ill-timed".
She was echoed by her colleague Chris Murphy, a top Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, who pledged to work so as to defeat Cruz's bill, which, he said, would pull the US away from its European allies.

"This isn't about Russia. This is about a Cruz-Trump agenda to break up the trans-Atlantic alliance. This is a moment where we need to be in solidarity with the administration as they try to use a carrot-stick approach with the Russians to prevent an invasion. Sending a wedge into the trans-Atlantic relationship right now would not be productive if our end goal is to try to save Ukraine from an invasion", Murphy argued.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) struck the same tone by saying that he has "no lost love for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Russia", but that he doesn't "want to do anything that's going to hurt" US security.

Cruz Concluding Deal for Vote on Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2

The comments followed Cruz reaching a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in mid-December to lift a hold on the confirmation of 32 Biden diplomatic nominees in exchange for a January vote on his proposed sanctions legislation against Nord Stream 2.
Work on Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.11.2021
Germany Warns US Congress Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Will 'Damage Transatlantic Unity', Docs Show
The accord came after months of wrangling between Democrats and the Texas Republican over US ambassadorships and other senior federal government appointments, which was deliberately blocked by Cruz for months.
The GOP senator is at the helm of his party's drive to derail Nord Stream 2, as he proposes scrapping the sanctions waiver against Nord Stream 2 AG – the pipeline's operator, and underscores the need to threaten "any entity participating in certifying the pipeline" with "the full force of crippling American sanctions".

'Purely Economic Project'

In July, in a bid to improve relations with Berlin, President Biden and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached an agreement that was followed by the US scrapping its sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG. The deal stipulated that Russia not use the pipeline as an "energy weapon". Berlin perceives Nord Stream 2 as a major guarantee of its energy security and a strictly economic, non-political project.
Washington previously slapped a host of sanctions on the project, arguing that once Nord Stream 2 is operational, Europe will become even more dependent on Russia's energy resources, something that will allegedly help Moscow gain political leverage.
Moscow has repeatedly underlined that the project is purely economic, and claimed that the way in which the White House opposes Nord Stream 2 is an example of unfair competition.
A joint venture by Russia's Gazprom and four Western European energy companies, Nord Stream 2 is a 1,230-km twin gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to complement the existing Nord Stream 1 network.
In this handout photo released by the press-service of Eugal, a view shows the Eugal pipeline, in Germany - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.11.2021
Bavarian Leader for Launch of Nord Stream 2 Ahead of 'Cold' Winter, Reports Say
The already completed pipeline, which has yet to be certified by German and European regulators, is capable of transporting up to 1.9 trillion cubic feet (55 billion cubic metres) of gas per year from Russia to Europe, thus doubling Nord Stream's capacity.
President Putin, for his part, made it clear in late December that Russia will be ready to immediately start delivering gas supplies to Europe if EU countries decide to launch Nord Stream 2.
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