Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Nord Stream 2: discord on sanctions against Nord Stream 2 blocks US defense budget

 Congressmen of the republican party have blocked the decision on the defense budget over the question of further sanctions against the pipeline operator and connected companies, writes BILD:

In Washington, the conflict over sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea is coming to a head. That has now contributed to the temporary blockade of the US defense budget for the coming year.

The Republicans in the US Senate prevented a vote on the Defense Budget (NDAA) package on Monday evening (local time) using procedural rules. The Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, justified the move with the fact that the Democrats refused to include a change in the law on Nord Stream 2 in the package. After the change, US President Joe Biden will no longer have the option of exempting US sanctions due to Nord Stream 2 for reasons of national security.

With the amendment to the law, several Republican senators want to prevent the operation of the pipeline, which is supposed to bring gas from Russia to Germany bypassing Ukraine. The Democrat Biden had issued special permits (“Presidential Waiver”) in May, with which Nord Stream 2 AG, based in Switzerland, and its German managing director were spared US sanctions.

The majority leader of the Democrats, Chuck Schumer, criticized the blockade as "unheard of". Schumer said: "The Democrats will continue to work to ensure that our troops are paid and that our vital defense programs can continue." McConnell accused Schumer of having introduced the package with a delay and of trying to prevent debates about "Russia's aggression", for example. He called Nord Stream 2 "the pipeline that drives Putin's encroachment on Europe". The Democrats need the votes of several Republicans in order for the defense budget to be put to the vote in the Senate.

If the new regulation sought by the Republicans should come about, German-American relations will also suffer. The US news site "Axios" reported on Sunday, citing confidential documents from the German embassy in Washington, that the German government had warned Congress of sanctions in connection with Nord Stream 2 - these would represent a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the year-long dispute over the project, the federal government and the Biden government announced a breakthrough in July. They published a joint statement pledging support for Ukraine. The USA had massively criticized Nord Stream for two years. Biden then admitted that the US would no longer be able to prevent the pipeline.

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