Congress Authorized Sanctions Against Russia’s Nord Stream Pipeline Last Summer

By Patrick Goodenough | July 12, 2018 | 5:57am EDT
The route of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, designed to carry Russian natural gas to Germany, bypassing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine. (Map: Nord Stream AG)

( - U.S. legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump last August authorizes the federal government to impose sanctions on European companies involved in Nord Stream 2.

The legislation declares it U.S. policy to “continue to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline” and to “prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy.”

The administration has yet to take action on that provision of the Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets Russia as well as Iran and North Korea.

In March, 39 senators from both parties urged the administration in a letter to “utilize all of the tools at its disposal” to prevent the construction of the pipeline, which they said “will make American allies and partners in Europe more susceptible to Moscow’s coercion and malign influence.”

“The best way to guarantee Europe’s long term economic health and independence is to enable and support investment in a variety of energy sources, suppliers, and routes to meet Europe’s needs,” they wrote.

Several days after the letter was sent, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing that companies involved in the construction and financing of the pipeline “could expose themselves to sanctions” under CAATSA.

“We believe that the Nord Stream 2 project would undermine Europe’s overall energy security and stability,” she said. “It would provide Russia another tool to pressure European countries, especially countries such as Ukraine.”

As has reported, President Trump -- at a Wednesday morning meeting in Belgium with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg -- bluntly criticized Germany for buying oil and gas from Russia -- the country that NATO was formed to protect against.

"So we're supposed to protect you against Russia, but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that's very inappropriate," Trump said. "And the former chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that's supplying the gas. Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.  So you tell me, is that appropriate?" he asked.

Trump said "it should never have been allowed to happen," and he noted that he's been complaining about the situation since he took office.

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