Senate Poised to Vote on Nord Stream 2 Sanctions

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White House opposes GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal, backs another bill

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The Biden administration, which opposes the bill, lobbied Democratic senators against it, arguing it would remove US leverage to deter Russia and damage ties with Germany and other European allies. Russia has gathered thousands of troops around Ukraine, and talks between the US and Russia in Geneva this week were to no avail.

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The administration has supported an alternative bill introduced by Bob Menendez (D., NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That law will direct the administration to review the waiver of sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and impose mandatory sanctions against Russian leaders, banks and businesses, but only if Moscow escalates hostilities against Ukraine. It is not known when that bill could receive a Senate vote.

Mr Cruz slammed the Biden administration for a disastrous decision last year to waive Nord Stream restrictions. The State Department waived fines on the pipeline’s parent company and chief executive in May as part of an effort to strengthen ties with its ally Germany.

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“The eyes of history are on us,” Mr Cruz said in a speech before the vote. “Today each of us will be faced with an important question: can we put small differences aside and come together to defend our friend and our ally Ukraine against an imminent Russian invasion?”

Mr Cruz accused Democrats of flopping, and he criticized Menendez’s sanctions bill as weak.

Mr Cruz said he doubted sanctions would be imposed after an invasion, especially once the pipeline was complete and the Germans relied on Russian natural gas from Nord Stream 2 to heat their homes. He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that imposing sanctions after the Russian offensive would make them meaningless.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (RQE) also urged senators to vote in favor of Mr Cruz’s bill. “We can send a stern warning to Putin that he will not be allowed to use energy as a weapon. …”

Mr McConnell said Mr Cruz’s bill that would impose sanctions is not about driving a nail into Europe. “The pipeline is the nail.” They said. “That’s the whole point. That has been Putin’s goal, to isolate Ukraine from Europe and make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas.”

Sen. Jean Shaheen (d., NH) responded in a speech that he shared concerns expressed by Mr. McConnell that Russia is a threat to Ukraine and Eastern Europe. She noted that she has long been an opponent of Nord Stream 2, co-sponsoring the previous sanctions bill with Mr Cruz during the Trump administration.

But Ms Shaheen said she does not support Mr Cruz’s current bill, and argued it would undermine important diplomatic efforts by the Biden administration.

“Supporting his bill would be a vote to compromise trans-Atlantic unity,” she said. “It’s a vote that breaks the message of bipartisan support in the face of the Russian aggression. And moreover, not just bipartisan support, but allied support.”

Write Lindsay Wise [email protected] . Feather

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