- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2021

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joined European counterparts Monday in denouncing the White House’s decision to green-light the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia.

“We consider Nord Stream 2 a geopolitical project geared towards expanding Russia‘s influence on Europe by dominating the energy market,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey in a statement. “The completion of the pipeline will strengthen the impact of Russian gas in the European energy mix, endanger the national security of EU member states and the United States, and threaten the already precarious security and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

The Biden administration announced last month that it had reached a deal with Germany to allow for the completion of the Russian pipeline, reversing the prior two administrations’ opposition and prompting a bipartisan backlash in Congress.

Legislators from Estonia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania co-signed the statement.

“The likely repercussion of the completion and operation of Nord Stream 2 is to undermine the development of a single, liberalized, and open European market by consolidating sources of supply in the Nord Stream 2 system and deterring investment in alternatives,” they said.

Mr. Menendez said the pipeline undercuts Ukraine, a pro-European ally already embroiled in a security crisis with neighboring Russia.

“We insist that any further agreements on Nord Stream 2 necessitate consultations across the transatlantic family,” the statement said. “Moreover, such diplomacy should happen with the fundamental principle in mind — countering malign Russian aggression is in all of NATO’s, all EU members, and our partners in Central and Eastern Europe vital national security interests.”

U.S. lawmakers from both parties have criticized the administration for green-lighting the project, which some say will give Russia outsized influence in the region.

The administration waived sanctions in May against Nord Stream 2 AG, the Swiss subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom that is spearheading the project. It argued that the sanctions would have little effect in curbing progress on the pipeline, which runs through the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream is 99% finished,” President Biden said last month. “The idea that anything that was going to be said or done was going to stop it was not possible.”

Mr. Biden faced backlash from Democrats for the decision.

The most recent deal reached under the administration allows Germany to double its supply of natural gas it receives from Russia and allows Russia to bypass an existing route through Ukraine.

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