Congress Makes Final Push to Stop Russian Pipeline to Europe

Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction / Getty Images
November 30, 2020

Congress is preparing a final round of sanctions to thwart Russia's efforts to build an undersea gas pipeline to Europe.

Lawmakers in Washington, including prominent Russia hawks Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), aim to halt construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany's northern coast. Members of Congress agreed this month on sanctions intended to make completion of the project impossible, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The proposed sanctions, which are reportedly included in the House and Senate's compromise National Defense Authorization Act, target Russia's only pipe-laying ship capable of completing the pipeline. The sanctions would penalize companies for making modifications to the ship that are necessary for the final stages of the pipeline's construction.

Washington’s sanctions will act as "the final nail into the coffin of this project," Vadym Glamazdin, a Ukrainian government relations official for the country’s national gas company, told the Wall Street Journal. "When these sanctions are finally voted and become law, there will be no practical way to build this pipeline."

The White House has consistently opposed Nord Stream 2 and imposed sanctions in 2019 that brought the project to a halt. President Donald Trump has repeatedly made his case against the pipeline to German chancellor Angela Merkel in meetings between the two leaders.

"I‘ve never been a part of a conversation in which the president did not support Nord Stream 2 sanctions," one White House official told the Wall Street Journal.

Calls for sanctions against Nord Stream 2 reached a high point this summer after Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was allegedly poisoned by the Russian government. "It's long past time to end Nord Stream [2]," Gallagher said in September after it was confirmed Navalny was poisoned by a Russian nerve agent. "The free world should not be in the business of giving Vladimir Putin leverage."

A bloc of German lawmakers also called to end the project. The chair of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee said its completion would be an implicit endorsement of Putin's "inhuman and contemptuous politics."