Biden Administration Backs Russian Sanctions Bill Contingent on Ukraine Invasion

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Democratic proposal to mandate restrictions on Nord Stream 2 pipeline substitutes plan by GOP Sen. Ted Cruz

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The Biden administration, along with European partners, is threatening Moscow with harsh penalties for Russia attacking Ukraine.

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The Democratic bill, supported by the White House and sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D., NJ), directed the administration to review a waiver of sanctions against Nord Stream 2’s parent company in the light of the Kremlin’s military Will give construction and aggression towards Ukraine.”

The State Department waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2’s parent company and chief executive in May, as the US tried to strengthen ties with its ally Germany. Still, the administration wants to secure assurances that Germany will halt use of the pipeline if Moscow invades Ukraine, a US congressional aide briefed on the discussion said.

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Mr. Cruz negotiates a vote on his legislation in a settlement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY). Under his agreement, Mr Cruz released his hold on dozens of ambassadorial nominations after Thursday in exchange for a vote on Nord Stream 2. Mr Menendez is urging Mr Schumer to bypass the committee process and get his bill on the floor for a vote as soon as possible.

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horn said Wednesday that the Cruz bill was intended to “get political points at home” and would remove US leverage to deter Russia. “And it will come at a moment where we need to unite closely with our European partners, including Germany,” she said.

Ms Horn said the administration supports Mr Menendez’s bill instead because it would trigger “serious costs to the Russian economy if Russia further invades Ukraine, as President Biden and our allies and partners have made clear.” that we will.”

In addition to requiring sanctions on Russia’s military and political leaders—Russian President Vladimir Putin—as well as his inner circle—the Menendez bill would authorize $500 million more in security aid to Ukraine in the event of a new Russian invasion, and ask defense and State Department urgently to expedite the transfer of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine. It would also authorize sanctions on providers of financial messaging services in Russia, such as SWIFT, the global banking transaction system, and bar transactions on Russian sovereign debt.

Republicans insist that while Mr. Cruz’s bill requires the administration to impose pipeline restrictions, Mr. Menendez’s law gives Mr. Biden the discretion to do so. He criticized the White House for trying to pressure Democrats to oppose Mr Cruz’s bill.

Bill Haggerty (R., Tenn.) said, “The Senate should pass this bill overwhelmingly, help us achieve the leverage we had, but the Biden administration is all about appeasement, our Leaving leverage and getting nothing.” on Fox Business.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that imposing sanctions after the Russian invasion would make sanctions meaningless. On Saturday, he thanked Cruz and Schumer for “agreeing on a vote to stop Russia’s Nordstream 2” via Twitter.

The final package of US sanctions will depend on what scenario the West faces in the context of a Russian offensive against Ukraine, senior administration officials said, but any aggression will lead to a significant backlash. Officials said that instead of targeting short-term energy exports, the administration is seeking to impose fiscal sanctions and export controls that would stifle Russian industry and degrade its energy-dependent economy over time.

Construction on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea is effectively complete, but the project still requires technical certification for operation. Approving its owner would prevent German and EU bodies from allowing the flow of gas through Nord Stream 2 and has the potential to complicate White House dealings with Germany and Russia. The project would enable Russia to bypass the transit system running through Ukraine, and Kiev has lobbied against it.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government refers to the agreement Mr Biden signed in July with his predecessor, Angela Merkel: Germany to take action to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe if Russia acts aggressively towards Ukraine. Committed to.

As the vote on Mr Cruz’s bill neared, the White House sent administration officials to meet with Senate Democrats who were on the fence, and in recent days Democrats have begun to unite instead with the Menendez bill.

Mr Cruz’s co-sponsor of the previous Nord Stream 2 ban law, Sen. Jean Shaheen (D., NH), said he is “no” on his current bill. She is now co-sponsoring Mr Menendez’s bill.

“We need legislation that addresses the political situation we face today in response to escalating Russian aggression – not just last year or two years ago,” Ms Shaheen said. “This law upholds that resolution without undermining diplomatic progress.”

Sen. Mark Warner (d., Va.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also said he would not vote on Mr. Cruz’s bill because it would “poke our key ally in the eye, right in the middle of a conversation with Putin.” “

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