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US imposes more sanctions on Russians over Nord Stream 2

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Photo by Reuters)

The administration of US President Joe Biden has announced to impose sanctions on a Russian vessel and two Russian individuals involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, a sprawling undersea pipeline that will carry Russian gas directly into Germany

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that the Biden administration has submitted a report to Congress naming one Russian vessel and two Russians upon whom sanctions will be imposed.

“Today’s report is in line with the United States’ continuing opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the US Government’s continued compliance with PEESA, as amended,” Blinken said, referring to the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019.

The Biden administration has so far identified seven people and 16 entities to be subject to US sanctions for their involvement in the $11-billion Nord Stream 2 project, designed to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline to 110 billion cubic meters per year.

The names of the individuals and vessel newly sanctioned were not made public.

The project has been a focal point of tensions between Moscow and Washington. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said all future attempts by the US-led Western countries to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project are doomed to fail. 

"I am convinced that all attempts to undermine it, challenge it, all attempts to surround its completion with some conditions, they are doomed to failure. Although there will be such attempts," Lavrov said last week.

The construction of the pipeline has been hampered by embargoes introduced by the United States at the end of 2019, political tensions, and Washington's plans to boost sales of its seaborne liquefied natural gas to Europe.

Work on the project was suspended in December 2019 after a Swiss company abandoned pipe-laying operations due to the then-looming US sanctions. In December 2020, the construction of the gas pipeline was resumed after a year's pause.

The Biden administration has waived sanctions on the company overseeing the construction of the pipeline, Nord Stream 2 AG, and its chief operating officer in a concession to Germany.

Hawkish Republicans and some Democrats have slammed the Biden administration for waiving sanctions on the company constructing the pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Russia to Germany, the Netherlands, and as far away as northern Italy. 

“Even as the Administration continues to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including via our sanctions, we continue to work with Germany and other allies and partners to reduce the risks posed by the pipeline to Ukraine and frontline NATO and EU countries and to push back against harmful Russian activities, including in the energy sphere,” Blinken said in the statement.

Despite long-standing US objections to the project, the Biden administration concluded in July that it was too advanced to stop.

Senior officials in Moscow have time and again warned that Europe would be the one to suffer from the United States unilateral sanctions against Moscow since the sanctions are only aimed at promoting Washington's commercial interests.

The Biden administration on Friday also announced additional sanctions on Russia accusing the Kremlin of poisoning opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

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