New Sanctions for Russian Gas Pipeline Fall Short in Senate

“The pipeline itself is the wedge,” Mr. McConnell stated. “That’s the whole point. That’s been Putin’s goal: decoupling Ukraine from Europe and making Europe even more reliant on Russian gas.”

Mr. Cruz’s laws set off a fierce spherical of lobbying, squeezing specifically centrist Democrats who’ve lengthy been supporters of Ukraine. On a Christmas Eve video name with a bipartisan group of greater than 20 lawmakers, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine forged Nord Stream 2 as an existential menace to his nation, arguing that the pipeline posed as a lot danger to Ukraine because the Russian troops amassing on its border, in line with 4 individuals briefed on the decision, who described it on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to touch upon it.

Mr. Zelensky, they stated, expressed frustration that the Biden administration had waived sanctions on the pipeline final yr. Since then, Mr. Zelensky has promoted Mr. Cruz’s invoice on Twitter.

A lobbyist who represents the Ukrainian oil and gasoline business, together with the state-owned firm Naftogaz, reached out this week to the places of work of Senate Democrats to induce help for Mr. Cruz’s invoice, in line with an individual conversant in the outreach.

An e-mail despatched on Monday to Senate places of work by the lobbyist, which was forwarded to The New York Times, included a screenshot of Mr. Zelensky’s tweet, and added the message, “Ukraine Pres. Zelensky calls on all senators to vote in favor of Nord Stream 2 sanctions.”

But the Biden administration marshaled its personal forces in opposition to the laws. Responding to a request for a briefing by two Democratic senators, the State Department despatched officers to Capitol Hill on Monday to temporary lawmakers and dissuade them from supporting the invoice. The subsequent day, the difficulty got here up once more as senators met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in a closed-door assembly to debate an upcoming delegation journey to Ukraine.

In an effort to additional head off defections, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, unveiled on Wednesday a Democratic different to Mr. Cruz’s invoice that will impose sanctions on high Russian authorities officers, together with Mr. Putin, if Russia engages in or helps “a significant escalation in hostilities or hostile action in or against Ukraine.” It would additionally present Ukraine with $500 million in supplemental emergency safety help within the occasion that Russia invades.


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