Biden waiving sanctions on Russian pipeline because ‘it’s almost completely finished’
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President Biden says he decided to waive sanctions against the Russian-owned company behind the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany because “it’s almost completely finished.”
Biden — who will sit down with Russian leader Vladimir Putin next month in Switzerland for the first time as president — was asked by reporters Tuesday why he was allowing the pipeline construction between Russia and Germany, despite it undermining NATO and American interests.
“Because it’s almost completely finished, number one. The idea that anything that — and it’s not like I can allow Germany to do something they’re not,” he said.
The president said he has been opposed to Nord Stream 2 from the beginning, but it was “almost completed by the time I took office.”
“To go ahead and impose sanctions now, I think, would be counterproductive now in terms of our European relations. And they know how strongly I feel. And I hope we can work on how they handle it from this point on,” he told reporters as he prepared to leave the White House en route to Delaware Tuesday.
The State Department decided to waive sanctions last week in the interest of “rebuilding relationships with our allies and partners in Europe,” despite uncovering that the Switzerland-based company Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, Matthis Warnig, a Putin ally and former officer in East Germany’s Stasi, or security police, engaged in sanctionable activity.
“Today’s actions demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to energy security in Europe, consistent with the President’s pledge to rebuild relationships with our allies and partners in Europe. We will continue to oppose the completion of this project, which would weaken European energy security and that of Ukraine and Eastern flank NATO and EU countries,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement released last Wednesday.
“Our opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is unwavering. Though we may not always agree, our alliances remain strong, and our position is in line with our commitment to strengthen our Transatlantic relationships as a matter of national security,” the statement continued.
The natural gas pipeline is being built under the Baltic Sea by Russian energy company Gazprom, allowing Russia to bypass running the lines through Ukraine.
Opponents of the pipeline argue that it will give Putin too much influence in Germany and throughout Europe because the Kremlin will control such a substantial energy supply.
Former President Donald Trump railed against the deal and even warned NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting in July 2018 that it would allow Germany to be “totally controlled” by Moscow.
“I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump told Stoltenberg. “So we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. And I think that’s very inappropriate.”
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