USA: President Joe Biden faces Berlin in the pipeline dispute – politics

The White House is taking a step towards the federal government in the dispute over the German-Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. The US government is reportedly working with Democratic senators to prevent Republican law enforcing immediate sanctions on the pipeline project. As the Washington Post Reported on Thursday, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez, has formulated a significantly weakened alternative law. This only instructs the White House to consider punitive measures against the pipeline should Russia invade Ukraine.

The US government under President Joe Biden is strictly against the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2 going into operation. Washington sees the pipeline as a dangerous geostrategic project by Moscow to be able to deliver gas past Ukraine to the west and thus have political leverage against Kiev and Europe. At the same time, however, Biden sees relations with Germany as so valuable that he does not want to damage them by taking punitive measures against the companies involved in the pipeline – especially not during the current negotiations with Moscow, which are intended to prevent an attack on Ukraine. Biden has therefore so far prevented sanctions against the pipeline.

The willingness to show consideration for Berlin is clearly lower among the Republicans. The Texan Senator Ted Cruz has introduced a law that would force the President to impose sanctions on all companies involved in the German-Russian pipeline within 15 days of its passage. This law is to be voted on in the Senate in the coming days.

Since many Democratic senators are nervous about the Russian march on the Ukrainian border and the threats from Moscow, the White House feared that Cruz’s tough sanctions law could get a majority with their votes. Although Biden’s staff members have lobbied against the law in Congress, there are apparently enough potential dissidents in the Democratic faction. If Cruz’s law were passed, it would not only put a heavy strain on relations with the new federal government, but would also be an embarrassing defeat for Biden.

To give the potential dissenters an alternative, Senator Menendez, with the backing of the White House, wrote a separate law. This only provides that in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US government should “consider” all necessary measures to prevent Nord Stream 2 from going into operation. It also contains a number of severe punitive measures against Russia in the event of an invasion. These are to hit the Russian leadership – including President Vladimir Putin – as well as the Russian financial sector.

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