U.S. Singles Out Russian Ship for New Nord Stream 2 Sanctions
(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration singled out a Russian ship for violating U.S. prohibitions on constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, clearing the way for a new round of sanctions as part of its effort to stop the nearly-completed project.
In a report released late Friday, the U.S. cited the ship, the Fortuna, and its owner, KVT-RUS. The report also listed other entities that were exempt from sanctions because they’re unwinding their work on Nord Stream 2. Notably absent from the congressionally mandated report were any German or other European entities also aiding construction of the pipeline.
The U.S. decision reflects a political calculation by Secretary of State Antony Blinken not to challenge Germany over its support for the pipeline. Blinken is wary of antagonizing a key ally even though the Biden administration -- like the Trump administration before it -- opposes the pipeline, calling it a “bad deal” for European energy security.
The State Department report was supposed to have been delivered on Feb. 16, but the Biden administration said it needed a little more time to sort through intelligence to determine which vessels, people and other entities were helping with the pipeline project.
“Our allies know this, our partners know this and that is very important to us,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in a briefing on Friday. “Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal and companies risk sanctions if they are involved.”
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Critics said the decision regarding the Fortuna, and KVT-RUS, was inadequate because those two entities had already been sanctioned and there were other Russian assets that should face punishment.
“Simply put, today’s sanctions designations are wholly inadequate,” Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “Congressional intent is clear and cannot be ignored: the mandatory authorities passed with bipartisan support in the last two NDAAs are meant to stop the completion of the malign Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”
Nord Stream 2 emerged as a major source of friction in trans-Atlantic relations during President Donald Trump’s administration as the project, which would bring Russian gas into the heart of Europe, neared completion.
Critics, including Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, argue that a U.S. law that came into force on Jan. 1 requires sanctions against any foreign entity if it assisted in construction of the pipeline. They also say that while the U.S. may be seeking to ease strains with Germany, it risks alienating other allies such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.
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