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Dispute over Russian pipeline tests over Biden European territories

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pressure is mounting on President Joe Biden to take steps to prevent the end of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe, which many fear will give the Kremlin serious leverage over US partners and allies. However, such an action could cause a huge rift in transatlantic relations, particularly with Germany, at a time when Biden has made it a priority to restore good relations with Europe.

As the North Stream 2 pipeline was completed, US lawmakers from both parties stepped up their demands for White House reluctance to impose new sanctions on Russian-European companies to halt the project. But the prospects of that case seem narrow. Germany continues to support the project as it boosts natural gas consumption, և the pipeline is about 95% complete.

Biden has said he opposes a pipeline owned by Russian state-owned Gazprom with investments by several European companies. He wanted to present himself strongly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while strongly supporting Eastern European countries such as Poland and Ukraine, which oppose it because they bypass both.

The Russia-Germany pipeline is a major concern for the United States, which will increase Western Europe’s already heavy dependence on Russian energy, while US-Russia tensions escalate over a number of issues, including Ukraine, election interference, cyber-attacks and pressure. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his supporters.

At the same time, the administration is seeking broad European support, especially from Germany, the continent’s economic hub, for its planned exit from Afghanistan, climate change measures, and countering China’s more global resilience. It is unclear whether sanctions against business from Germany and elsewhere undermine efforts to advance those goals and restore the strained relationship under Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously signed legislation that would require the administration to either impose sanctions on the 20 companies involved in the pipeline financing և construction or explain why they deserve exceptions. In January, the Trump administration fined several Russian firms for their involvement, but Biden did not expand the list.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, a voice control critic in R-Texas. It also received the support of Biden’s strongest foreign policy advocates in the Senate, including Committee Chairman Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Chris Koons of Delaware and Anna ահahin of New Hampshire.

“I think right now, when we see Putin ousting his biggest opposition leader Navalny in prison, our best blow is to shut down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if we are going to get his attention,” Sahin said. he said.

Democrats agreed to back the sanctions after Republicans promised to drop two Biden State Department nominees. Bipartisan support suggests that the administration finds it difficult to ignore it. In February, Biden was already shocked by the criticism for not extending sanctions on the Trump administration.

“On Capitol Hill, we have a lot in common with Nord Stream 2, it’s a position that it’s a bad deal,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday. “We will continue to do everything we can, including the relevant book legislation, to oppose its construction and completion.”

But the administration has yet to adopt a position on the new legislation, which congressional aides on both sides of the aisle believe there is a good chance of passing. That would give Biden 15 days from the date of adoption to decide whether to impose sanctions on the 20 companies that hit the ships.

The sanctions that would be applied to German, Russian, Polish և Austrian organizations will freeze their assets, make it difficult for them to run any international business, and may affect their leaders.

Even if Biden vetoes the legislation, he faces another deadline in mid-May, when the State Department must submit to Congress a European Energy Security Administration update on compliance with previous laws that require sanctions for unspecified companies. Construction of a gas pipeline that bypasses both Poland and Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended Germany’s cooperation with Russia on North Stream 2. He noted that Russian gas already flows freely to Europe via other routes, including the North Stream 1 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

“I would like to note that the gas supplied by Nord Stream 2, which is not flowing yet, is nothing worse than the gas supplied by Nord Stream 1, which flows through Ukraine, that which passes from Russia to Turkey. »: Merkel said.

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