According to ALJAZEERA, The U.S. is likely to hold off sanctioning any German entities for now over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, according to four people familiar with the matter, as the Biden administration seeks to halt the project without antagonizing a close European ally.
A key report to Congress that was due last Tuesday could be out as soon as Friday, and it’s expected to list only a small number of Russia-linked entities, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the policy hasn’t been announced.
Nord Stream 2 emerged as a major source of friction in trans-Atlantic relations during President Donald Trump’s administration as the project, which would bring Russian gas into the heart of Europe, neared completion. Trump officials, in arguments essentially supported by President Joe Biden’s administration, said the project undermines European security by tying the continent more closely to Moscow.
The people familiar with the issue said Secretary of State Antony Blinken is loathe to target companies or individuals from nations like Germany, arguing that it’s more important to find a diplomatic solution and heal rifts created by Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy.
That reticence is sparking an outcry among critics who argue that U.S. law requires sanctions against any foreign entity if it assisted in construction of the pipeline. They also say that while the U.S. may be seeking to ease strains with Germany, it risks alienating other allies such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.
After just one month in office, debate over the pipeline is forcing the Biden administration to navigate between seeking to keep pressure on Russia and building closer ties with Germany, a NATO ally. Time is running out on the Americans, with the pipeline nearly finished.
Two people familiar with the matter said that while the Trump administration had also shied away from sanctioning German entities, it was preparing such action in its final weeks. Among potential targets was Matthias Warnig, the German chief executive officer of Nord Stream 2 and former East German Stasi agent who has known Russian President Vladimir Putin personally since at least 1991, the people said.