American senators want to block Nord Stream 2

The US government has to put more pressure on European allies and energy companies to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This is stated in a letter that was recently sent to the US Department of State and the US Ministry of Finance and was signed by 39 Senators.

In the letter the Senators argue for new measures to obstruct the construction of this pipeline. They refer to the new sanction package that was signed by Trump last year which gave the US government the authority to impose sanctions on companies that cooperate with Gazprom for the construction of pipelines and infrastructure.

The senators speak of a decisive year for the Nord Stream 2, a new pipeline through the Baltic Sea which enables Russia to export twice as much natural gas to Germany. The senators do not want this pipeline to be built, because they fear Russian Gazprom will gain even more control over the European energy market. The full text of this letter is shown below.

“Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary Sullivan,

We write to express our concern about the continuing development of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany. We oppose Nord Stream 2 and urge the Administration to utilize all of the tools at its disposal to prevent its construction.

Senior level outreach by both of you to the leaders of the European Union nations affected by and involved with this disastrous proposal is critical to ensuring Nord Stream 2 is not completed.

Nord Stream 2, which follows the route of the Nord Stream I pipeline from Russia across the Baltic Sea to Germany, will make American allies and partners in Europe more susceptible to Moscow’s coercion and malign influence. The pipeline would be a step backwards in the diversification of Europe’s energy sources, suppliers and routes. This expensive and unnecessary project would force Gazprom’s customers to pay for a project that would further reinforce Russia’s near-monopoly as a natural gas supplier to the region. European consumers would be paying Russia to divert its gas exports away from Ukraine, with no benefit to anyone but Gazprom. As a result, Europe would have less money to invest in real energy diversity projects, forcing continued dependence on Russia for its energy needs.

We are concerned that Nord Stream 2 would undermine the economy of Ukraine and other gas transit countries in Central Europe by allowing Russia to reduce or even cut off gas supplies to those countries with impunity. By circumventing Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 will remove one of biggest reasons for Russia to avoid large-scale conflict in eastern Ukraine — as the Kremlin is well aware. Transporting Russian natural gas to European markets is critical to Ukraine’s economy and provides Ukraine with important leverage in its relations with Russia. Nord Stream 2 would wholly undercut that leverage and increase Ukraine’s vulnerability to Russia.

For too long, European nations have been held hostage to Russian political pressure on a whole host of issues due to their dependence on Gazprom to deliver gas needed to keep their people warm throughout the winter. The best way to guarantee Europe’s long term economic health and independence is to enable and support investment in a variety of energy sources, suppliers, and routes to meet Europe’s needs and to force Gazprom to negotiate as a market actor and not a monopolist.

We appreciate the Administration’s public statements opposing Nord Stream 2. Secretary Tillerson, in J anuary, reiterated that the United States opposes Nord Stream 2 and described it as “undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability and providing Russia yet another tool to politicize energy as a political tool.” The State Department and other executive branch agencies must continue to be vocal in their disapproval of this unwise pipeline.

Through the Countering America ‘s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and related efforts, Congress continues to send clear, bipartisan, and unambiguous signals to the Administration and to the world that we support efforts to counter Russian malign influence. Russia’s efforts are designed and intended not only to damage US interests and influence, but also to harm our allies and partners. Russia continues to undermine the rule of law and any  nstitution that gets in the way of the Kremlin pursuing its aggressive and self-interested foreign policy.

Section 232 of CAATSA provides the Administration with an additional tool to identify and sanction US. and foreign entities supporting or expanding Gazprom’s near-monopolist role in providing energy to US. allies. It is clear that the Kremlin uses Gazprom to exert unacceptable and divisive political pressure on sovereign European governments. Russia is attempting to use this influence to break transatlantic resolve on renewing sanctions intended to compel Russia to cease its illegal aggression in Ukraine and to live up to the Minsk commitments to which it has agreed but continues to Violate. Congress intended CAATSA to be a tool for the Administration to use in our efforts to support European energy security, and we encourage the Administration to carefully examine how CAATSA sanctions can be used to meet that goal.

This year will be decisive for the fate of Nord Stream 2. We must ensure that our European allies understand our resolve in supporting their energy independence and the detrimental impact of Nord Stream 2 on their long-term interests.

We thank you for your careful consideration of our concerns. We look forward to working With the Administration on additional measures to ensure that Nord Stream 2 is never built, and that our European allies and partners can gain secure and lasting energy independence.”

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