US says Cruz’s Nord Stream 2 sanctions plan would undermine united front

WASHINGTON, Jan.6 (Reuters) – The US State Department has said a bill pushed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would undermine the united front in response to Russia, a spokesman Ned Price said Thursday. .

“Our concern is that, if passed, the legislation will only serve to undermine the unity among our European allies at a crucial time when we must present a unified front in response to Russian threats against Ukraine,” said Price to reporters.

Cruz struck a deal with Democrats last month to secure a vote before Jan. 14 on the Russia-Germany pipeline in exchange for lifting his grip on dozens of Democratic President Joe Biden’s ambassadorial appointments.

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As part of the deal, Cruz’s bill, which would impose measures on the pipeline under previous terms, would need 60 votes to pass, a hurdle in the 50-50 Senate, where bipartisanship is rare. .

US officials are joining three rounds of talks involving Russia from Monday as Washington tries to deter Moscow from invading Ukraine after massing tens of thousands of troops along its border.

The Biden administration objected to the pipeline because it would bypass Ukraine, depriving it of lucrative transit fees. But last year, he lifted sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company that controls the project, as Biden sought to restore relations with Germany and other European allies.

The $ 11 billion pipeline, run by Russian state gas company Gazprom, could be approved by German regulators in mid-year, the chief executive of Uniper SE (UN01.DE), one of the five European energy companies participating in the financing of the gas pipeline, said this week.

Few Democrats in the Senate are likely to support the Cruz Bill, which imposes sanctions in the weeks after it is signed and allows Congress to vote to reinstate the measures if the president renounces them.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat who supported sanctions against Nord Stream 2, called Cruz’s legislation “untimely” as Washington should work closely with Germany and others on possible Russian action in Ukraine , a Politico report said this week. Shaheen and other Democratic senators opposed support for Bill Cruz, according to the report.

Price said the administration is committed to working with Congress on a strong deterrent against Russian aggression in Ukraine. “Unfortunately, this amendment is not, in our opinion, a real effort to counter further Russian aggression or to protect Ukraine,” he said.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has been pushing for the pipeline because it needs natural gas as it moves away from coal and nuclear power.

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Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Timothy Gardner; written by Costas Pitas; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis

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