House Republicans have sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requiring introducing new sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
"We write to you to express deep concerns about the Biden Administration's implementation plans for the Nord Stream 2 sanctions required under the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act (PEESA), as amended by the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA)," the letter says, as reported by the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee.
It is noted open-source reporting has cited numerous entities suspected of being engaged in sanctionable activity related to the Russian malign Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
Read alsoBy stocking up on antidote for Nord Stream 2 workers, Russia admits chemical threat – Lithuanian analyst"However, we have been informed that the State Department requires additional information on these entities before it can issue any further sanctions designations."
"Critical to our ability to conduct Congressional oversight and to ensure adherence to the spirit and letter of the law is a clearer understanding of the 'evidentiary threshold' the State Department is using when weighing additional sanctions designations under PEESA, as amended," reads the letter.
The lawmakers say they fear this discrepancy can only be explained by a desire to leave space for a "backdoor" deal with Germany.
"Given the shrinking window before the Nord Stream 2 pipeline's completion, we urge you to submit to Congress new sanctions designations as soon as the required information becomes available, rather than wait until May 17th, when the current 90-day reporting period ends and the next mandatory report to Congress is due," the letter says.
Nord Stream 2: Background
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald. This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with a number of European companies. Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
On December 9, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with expanded restrictions against the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
On December 11, 2020, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline resumed.
The U.S. Senate approved the NDAA, which provides for new sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2.
On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State notified European companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 of the risk of having new sanctions imposed on them.
On February 22, 2021, the United States imposed new sanctions on the Russian FORTUNA vessel building Nord Stream 2.
As of February 23, 2021, eighteen European companies at once refused to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2 over the U.S. sanctions.
On March 4, 2021, the construction of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters was extended by late September.