A group of lawmakers said the administration’s decisive rhetoric is not matched by an equally decisive action
Five influential Republican congressmen have appealed to the Joe Biden administration with a request to impose sanctions against participants in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, warning that the project “threatens to increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia.”
The request was contained in a letter from legislators to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
The document was signed by leading Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCall, House Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, and Congressmen Adam Kinzinger, Brian Fitzpatrick, and August Fluger.
They expressed concern about the Biden administration’s plans to enact mandatory sanctions on Nord Stream 2 under the European Energy Security Protection Act.
The authors of the letter asking for clarification why many of the organizations reportedly involved in sanctioned activities related to Nord Stream 2 have not yet been subjected to them.
“This is a project of Russian harmful influence, which threatens to increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, and, consequently, expands the ability of the Putin regime to exert political pressure in Europe,” the lawmakers said.
“It will also allow the Putin regime to export natural gas to Western Europe bypassing Ukraine, separating Ukraine’s security from the broader security of Europe and making Kyiv more vulnerable to Russian aggression,” they continued.
Congressmen said they are deeply concerned that the administration’s strong statements against the pipeline are not backed up by equally decisive action.
Instead, the administration appears to be engaging in harsh rhetoric, hiding behind opaque assessments of the ‘level of evidence base’ to avoid the full application of mandatory congressional sanctions as required by law, they wrote.
“The administration’s recent decision to impose sanctions only against the Russian pipe-laying vessel Fortuna and its owner, KBT-Rus, which were already sanctioned by the previous administration, symbolizes this alarming inconsistency,” they added.
Republican lawmakers have called on the Secretary of State to submit new sanctions decisions to Congress as soon as the required information is received, without waiting for May 17, when the current 90-day reporting period ends and the next mandatory report to Congress is due.
“We believe this would be in line with your administration’s rhetoric on the pipeline, including your statements at the hearing that the Biden administration” intends to do whatever it takes to prevent “project completion,” lawmakers said.
Last week, a group of 40 senators led by Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming sent a letter to President Joe Biden criticizing his administration for refusing to impose sanctions on organizations involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea. If completed, senators believe the pipeline would make American allies and partners in Europe more vulnerable to Moscow’s malevolent influence.
In their letter, the senators emphasize that Congress has passed several bipartisan legislation providing for sanctions against this project.
Lawmakers are asking the Biden administration to use all the tools at its disposal to immediately impose additional sanctions, especially the latest round, which both houses of Congress urgently and repeatedly approved last year.
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday that new sanctions against participants in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could be introduced as early as May.
On February 23, the State Department announced that only one organization had been added to the list – the Russian company KBT-Rus, which is laying pipes for Nord Stream 2. The company owns the Russian pipe-laying vessel Fortuna, which is involved in the construction of the gas pipeline.
“Of course, this is not the end of the story. Every 90 days, we are required to provide Congress with an update on identified … activities that are subject to sanctions in the context of North Stream 2, “Ned Price recalled.” If we … determine that other organizations are involved in such activities, we will report this to Congress. “