Putin given 'vast power' over European economies says expert
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The US President has been accused of allowing Russia’s chokehold on supplies to tighten after he waived sanctions on Nord Stream 2 back in May. Nord Stream 2 is the pipeline that will transit gas from Russia into Germany, bypassing Poland and Ukraine once it begins operating. Mr Biden’s administration lifted sanctions on the company building it. A State Department report was sent to Congress warning that Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, Matthias Warnig, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, engaged in sanctionable activity.
But Washington decided to waive those sanctions.
Mr Biden’s critics said this suggests he gave the pipeline his blessing.
Jake Evans, a Republican candidate for Congress, wrote on Twitter: “Friendly reminder that Joe Biden shut down the American Keystone XL Pipeline and approved the Russian Nord Stream 2 Pipeline.”
Mr Biden has been repeatedly slammed for his move.
Republican Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson said: “[The Biden] administration is sending a message of weakness and appeasement to our adversaries, encouraging and emboldening them.“
The comments came after a group of US senate republicans said they introduced legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
Senator Jim Risch, who led six lawmakers, offered the measure as an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act, a sweeping defence policy bill that Congress passes every year.
Mr Risch wrote on Twitter: “Unsurprisingly, the Biden administration continues to ignore Congress’ will on Nord Stream 2, therefore abandoning Ukraine and handing Russia energy leverage over our US allies.
“To stop this, I introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act imposing sanctions on Nord Stream 2.”
Mr Putin has been accused of using Nord Stream 2 as a “geopolitical weapon” after he reportedly decreased volumes of gas travelling into Europe to speed up its certification by German regulators.
The move hiked up gas prices to record highs and the low supplies have left the EU in the face of a crisis.
And instead of speeding up the certification process, the German regulators have suspended its approval.
But now, Mr Biden has u-turned and appears to be taking a different line.
Washington did slap down sanctions on a ship involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in November.
The change in tone comes as tension in Russia and the West reached a boiling point after Mr Putin reportedly sent over 100,000 troops to the Russia-Ukraine border.
The US now fears that there could be an imminent Russian invasion.
And Mr Biden has called for the pipeline project to be scrapped completely if Russia decides to invade.
The US president also warned of “strong economic and other measures”, should Mr Putin send his troops across the border for a military invasion.
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US national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Russia: “If Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine.
“The subject of the future of Nord Stream 2 in the context of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the coming weeks is a topic of utmost priority. It has been discussed thoroughly.”
And now, the US is considering re-introducing sanctions on the pipeline.
A European diplomat told Reuters: “If the U.S. imposes (additional) sanctions, it’s an academic point because no one will be able to do business with Nord Stream 2 for fear of running afoul of U.S. sanctions.”
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