White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the Biden administration’s decision to waive sanctions against Nord Stream 2 by saying the Russia-Germany pipeline was nearly complete and nothing could be done to stop it.
The US State Department announced on Wednesday it was sanctioning a number of ships and companies, but immediately waived the sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO Matthias Warnig, citing national interests.
Asked about this on Thursday, Psaki told Fox News reporter Peter Doocy that the US continues to oppose the pipeline as a “Russian geopolitical project” but that it was mostly completed by the time Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
Peter Doocy battles Jen Psaki over the Biden administration refusing to sanction Russians over Nord Stream 2 and having done nothing to stop the pipeline's completion (even though he killed Keystone XL).
As Doocy pointed out, it doesn't exactly show "climate leadership." pic.twitter.com/0eBk4uJ2rA
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 20, 2021
Doocy had pointed out that one of Biden’s first moves was to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada as a way of showing “climate leadership,” which, he said, hardly fit allowing Nord Stream 2 to continue.
“In what way were we going to stop a project in another country that had been built 95%?” Psaki retorted, adding that Washington has signaled opposition to it via “public and private channels,” including Wednesday’s sanctions.
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Despite Psaki’s belated admission, the US has certainly tried to do just that. Nord Stream 2 – an expansion of the pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea that has been pumping Russian natural gas to Germany since 2011 – was due to be completed by the end of 2019. However, it was first delayed by Denmark holding up the necessary permits, under US pressure, and then by President Donald Trump’s administration successfully intimidating the Swiss-Dutch contractor Allseas with sanctions in December of that year.
Once Russia dispatched its own vessels to finish the project, the US had run out of options. Sanctioning Germany directly would “negatively impact US relations” with Berlin and “the EU and other European allies and partners” that the Biden administration needed to implement its foreign policy agenda, the State Department told Congress in a report about the sanctions.
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“I think this is face-saving fakery, to be blunt and honest,” Professor Richard Wolff, host of the radio/TV show and podcast ‘Economic Update’, told RT’s Boom Bust. “By punishing or saying you’re going to punish a few Russian ships, you can appear to be a very tough guy.”
Trump administration veterans still held out hope that the Greens might somehow stop the pipeline from becoming operational, if and when they triumph in the German elections this fall. All Republicans were left with were Democrat talking points used against Trump, namely accusing him of being “soft on Russia,” which the White House and its friendly media have either ignored or brushed off.
The US has objected to Nord Stream 2 on grounds that it would deprive Ukraine of billions of dollars in transit fees, while attempting to pressure the EU into buying liquid natural gas produced in the US, at a far higher price than Russian energy.
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