Biden defends decision not to sanction construction of controversial Russian gas pipeline


“I have been opposed to Nord Stream 2 from the start,” Biden said on Tuesday of the pipeline, which is slated for completion this summer and intended to provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while giving Russia greater access. direct to the European market. .

“But it was almost over by the time I took office,” Biden added. “And to go ahead and impose sanctions now I think would be counterproductive in terms of our European relations and I hope we can work on how they handle this from now on.”

CNN reported earlier this month that the administration chose to sanction some of the small entities involved in the Nord Stream 2 project, including some Russian companies and ships that helped with the construction. But the administration ultimately decided to issue a national security waiver for the large company involved in building the pipeline – Nord Stream 2 AG, which is a registered Swiss company whose parent company is Russian gas giant Gazprom.

The decision to let the pipeline run unimpeded – indicating that the administration favors unity with its allies over fears of a potential geopolitical threat – could also increase tension between the White House and Democratic lawmakers, many of whom oppose Nord Stream 2.

The administration’s decision, first reported by Axios, was a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, many of whom in Congress fear they will now have greater influence in Eastern Europe. It was also expected to infuriate Kiev – the pipeline will allow Russia to bypass Ukraine by shipping gas to the European Union via the Baltic Sea, depriving Ukrainians of crucial revenue.

There was an intense back-and-forth over the decision and in the process, the State Department prepared an assessment of what steps would have been needed to shut down the pipeline, although the administration decided not to. go this route, a source familiar with the process. told CNN at the time.

He decided that shutting down the pipeline was not worth blowing up the relationship with Germany given the many national security issues the two countries are working on together, the source said. The second source familiar with the situation said the decision was ultimately the White House’s appeal.


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