Biden Makes 'Stunning' Move to Waive Sanctions On Putin’s Pet Pipeline Project

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2021. / Getty Images
May 18, 2021

The Biden administration will waive sanctions against a company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a move that will likely allow completion of a project that the Russian government is using to increase its influence in Europe.

Axios reported Tuesday that the administration is waiving sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, Matthias Warnig. Nord Stream 2 is a German company controlled by Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled oil giant. Warnig is a former East German intelligence officer said to be close to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the pipeline "a Russian geopolitical project intended to divide Europe and weaken European energy security." He said the pipeline was a "bad deal" for Europe and that the Biden administration was "committed to complying" with bipartisan legislation to impose sanctions.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who introduced legislation imposing the sanctions, called the decision "stunning."

"In defiance of U.S. law, Biden is actively helping Putin build his pipeline," Cruz tweeted.

Cruz asserted that the Biden administration is "shaping up to be the most pro-Russia administration of the modern era."

The State Department will recommend sanctions against both Nord Stream 2 and Warnig but will grant a waiver that stops the penalties from being applied. The Biden administration will impose sanctions against Russian ships that have transported materials to build the pipeline, which will allow Russia to transport gas directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Belarus.

The German government supports the pipeline and has said U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG would damage diplomatic relations between Berlin and Washington.