Biden Administration Designates Russian Ship To Help Build Nord Stream 2 Pipeline By Reuters

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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Nord Stream 2 Land Drop Facility on Lubmin 2/2

By Timothy Gardner and Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Friday identified a Russian ship and company it believes are helping build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but the entities had already been sanctioned by the Trump administration and opponents. to the project. in Congress said the measure would do little to stop work on it. The State Department said in a report to Congress that the Russian ship, the Fortuna, and its owner, KVT-RUS, had been designated, a process that initiates new sanctions, two lawmakers said. Both entities had been sanctioned by former President Donald Trump on his last full day in office last month for helping build the pipeline to bring Russian gas to Europe via Germany. “Simply put, today’s sanctions designations are totally inappropriate,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “Allowing this pipeline to be completed would be nothing short of a victory” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said. The pipeline is more than 90% complete and Russia’s state energy company Gazprom (MCX 🙂 and its Western partners expect to complete it this year. Much of the remaining work is difficult and is in deep water off Denmark. The two previous American presidents, Republican Trump and Democrat Barack Obama, had opposed the project as it would avoid Ukraine, through which Russia has sent gas to Europe for decades. That could deprive Ukraine of lucrative transit fees and potentially undermine its fight against Russian aggression. The United States has also been offering exports to Europe of liquefied natural gas as an alternative to piped gas from Russia. In past winters, Russia has shut down gas deliveries to Ukraine and other countries during price disputes. President Joe Biden believes the pipeline is “bad business” for Europe, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. But Biden, a Democrat, also wants to renew relations with Europe early in his presidency and has been under pressure from Germany, which needs Russian gas as it moves away from nuclear and coal plants. US sanctions halted work on the pipeline last year after Allseas, a Western pipeline company, withdrew. McCaul and three other US representatives, including Democrat Marcy Kaptur, this week asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to share plans on possible sanctions. In a letter to Blinken, they listed 15 other ships that they said were possibly involved in pipeline laying or related activities that would be punishable under defense policy law. Those ships included the Russian-flagged Akademik Cherskiy and the Umka. Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the State Department report also identified 18 companies that completed work on the project after US consultations with allies. Risch said the consultation occurred during the Trump administration. “This report does not clarify what additional steps the Biden administration has taken to fully implement the law and terminate this project,” Risch said. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with the administration to rectify today’s mistake and return to strong implementation of the bipartisan sanctions.”

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