In his continuing drive to show that he's getting "tough" on Russia, Biden has blinked. Axios' Jonathan Swan reports a major development Tuesday related to Washington's push to prevent the Russia-Germany natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from being completed: the US administration has moved to waive previously imposed sanctions on the company overseeing construction of the NS2, as well as its CEO. So much for the big "threat" to Europe's "energy security" - as the refrain has been endlessly for years...
Swan writes, "The decision indicates the Biden administration is not willing to compromise its relationship with Germany over this pipeline, and underscores the difficulties President Biden faces in matching actions to rhetoric on a tougher approach to Russia."
While the State Department still considers the corporate entity - Nord Stream 2 AG and CEO Matthias Warnig (who is said to be close to Putin) - to be engaged in "sanctionable activity", it now plans to waive the implementation of the sanctions, Axios' sources say.
Currently the "controversial" pipeline which reaching back into the Trump administration saw US officials accuse the Kremlin of attempting to "punish" Ukraine by denying it vital gas transit fees is estimated to be at 95% completion.
Aggressive Trump-era sanctions did little to actually thwart construction even after major Swiss and other European companies bowed out under the pressure, given Russian energy giant Gazprom vowed to push through with the final construction by outfitting additional of its vessels as pipelaying ships.
"This planned move also sets up a bizarre situation in which the Biden administration will be sanctioning ships involved in the building of Nord Stream 2 but refusing to sanction the actual company in charge of the project," Axios continues.
And again this clearly contradicts the longtime US and Biden administration position that NS2 constitutes a "threat" to Europe's energy security - this despite leading EU member Germany certainly not seeing it that way. The driving fear has remained that those nefarious Russians! are always looking for major leverage over Europe and the West, and the joint pipeline will give them plenty of that.
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It didn't take long at all for the Russia hawks to get raging angry.
So a bunch of Russians can shut down our pipelines, but we can’t shut down construction of theirs.https://t.co/qhgNHSDlfQ— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) May 18, 2021
And imagine if guess who had gone this "soft" on Russia...
A week after Russian hackers shut down a U.S. pipeline, President Biden lifted sanctions on a Russian pipeline.— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) May 18, 2021
What does Vladimir Putin have on President Biden??