The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment that would impose new sanctions on companies assisting Russia in completing a controversial gas pipeline to the European Union bypassing Ukraine.
Legislation is yet to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump before new sanctions are enforced, according to RFE/RL.
European vessels laying the pipeline halted work in December following the first round of U.S. sanctions targeting their efforts to help Russia build a pipe that would effectively absolve Ukraine of its gas transit country status and strip the country of billions of dollars in annual fees in this regard.
Russia is hoping to complete the project using own pipe-laying vessels, prompting the United States to widen the sanctions beyond vessels to any company.
The nearly $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would have an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters a year, is more than 90 percent built.
The United States opposes the project on the grounds that it strengthens the Kremlin's grip on the European energy market and punishes Ukraine, which is battling Russian-controlled forces in its eastern region of Donbas.
"Russia is trying to develop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to exert undue control on our European allies and their energy supplies. We must stop [President Vladimir] Putin's hostile influence strategy," Representative Steve Womack said in a tweet after the vote.
Russia has accused the United States of using sanctions as a weapon to boost its energy exports. The United States is seeking to increase liquefied-natural-gas exports to Europe.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned companies last week against helping Russia finish the pipeline, is scheduled to travel to Denmark this week. The portion of the pipeline that remains to be built lies in Denmark's economic waters.