U.S. authorities have announced sanctions on one Russian vessel and two Russians involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which the Biden administration opposes, fearing it could be exploited by Moscow to weaponize energy deliveries against European allies.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an Aug. 20 statement that a report has been submitted to Congress that lists the Russian entities to be sanctioned under the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (PEESA).
While the specifics of the report have not been made public, Blinken said that the vessel listed in the report, along with one other Russian vessel involved in the Nord Stream 2 project, would be designated as blocked property, bringing the total number of entities sanctioned under PEESA rules for their involvement in the project to seven persons and 16 vessels.
“Even as the Administration continues to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including via our sanctions, we continue to work with Germany and other allies and partners to reduce the risks posed by the pipeline to Ukraine and frontline NATO and EU countries and to push back against harmful Russian activities, including in the energy sphere,” Blinken said in a statement.
It comes as President Joe Biden separately issued an executive order on Friday allowing for sanctions to be imposed with respect to “certain Russian energy pipeline projects.”
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Biden wrote that the executive order “responds to certain Russian energy pipeline projects intended to expand Russia’s influence over Europe’s energy resources that would weaken European energy security—including that of Ukraine and Eastern flank NATO and EU countries—and thereby threatens the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
Ukraine opposes Nord Stream 2, worried it could be used by Russia as a weapon against it. Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatist forces battling Ukrainian troops in the eastern part of the country. Kyiv is also concerned about losing fees that it benefits from as a transit point for Russian gas flowing to Europe.
The $11 billion project, which would double Nord Stream’s capacity to ship Russian Arctic natural gas to Germany, is almost complete with only 9 miles left to construct, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.
Putin made the remarks after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow on Friday, with the two leaders determined to finalize the pipeline despite U.S. opposition.
Reuters contributed to this report.