Two senior Democrats U.S. Senators have urged President Joe Biden’s administration to apply all diplomatic weight to stop the Nord Stream two natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe, increasing pressure from party members.
Senators Bob Menendez, the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen, who chairs the panel’s Europe subcommittee, asked Secretary of State, Antony Blinken to implement sanctions under existing laws.
“This pipeline must be stopped and your leadership is required towards that end,” they wrote in a letter.
“We do … urge that the effort to build strong Nord Stream 2 sanctions packages be accelerated to meet the urgency of the moment,” they said, noting that the pipeline will be completed this year if construction continues unimpeded.
Nord Stream two, led by Russia state energy company Gazprom with its Western partners, would take Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
The pipeline would bypass Ukraine, likely depriving it of lucrative transit revenues and potentially undermining its efforts to counter Russian aggression.
U.S. companies also wanted to sell Europe liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative to Russian gas, which was cheaper.
Close ally Germany needed gas as it weans itself off nuclear and coal.
Blinken said last week that any entities involved with the project should immediately abandon work.
He will soon meet his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, to discuss the project.
U.S. lawmakers criticised the State Department in March for not sanctioning new companies building the project when it issued a report to Congress. The next report would be due in mid May, though any new sanctions could come ahead of it. (Reuters/NAN)