Blinken: Gas Pipeline Completion a 'Fait Accompli'

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described the physical completion of the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a "fait accompli." But Blinken also said on Monday that the US and Germany are working on arrangements to mitigate security concerns that European and US officials have raised about the pipeline which would carry Russian gas to Germany. The Biden administration was slammed by Republicans and Democrats alike in May when it sanctioned 13 vessels associated with the pipeline’s construction but waived sanctions against Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO Matthias Warnig (IOD May19'21). Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the first of Nord Stream 2's two parallel lines is physically complete, although it is not yet connected to the onshore landing point in Germany (IOD Jun.4'21). Blinken told the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday that US is "actively engaged" with Berlin to mitigate the concerns around the project. Those discussions center around efforts to ensure that Ukraine is "made whole" if completion of Nord Stream 2 eventually leads to Russian gas exports to Europe bypassing Ukraine and depriving it of much-needed transit fees. The waivers granted to Warnig and Nord Stream 2 AG could also be rescinded, Blinken noted. Blinken said talks with Berlin are also focused on preventing Russia from using its gas "as a coercive tool against Ukraine's security." He offered few details, however. Critics have argued that the Biden administration should press for more robust public commitments from Berlin in return for Washington keeping the waivers in place. While the Biden administration may now regard physical completion of the pipeline as a foregone conclusion, US, German and Russian officials have all noted that Nord Stream 2 still requires certification before the gas can start flowing. US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) -- a co-author of the congressional sanctions that the Biden administration waived -- said last week that it's still not too late for US officials to step in. "There are a lot of hurdles before that happens," she said in an interview with the BBC on Friday. Emily Meredith, Washington

Gas Pipelines, Security Risk , Sanctions
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