The United States has said it is seeing progress as European companies pull out of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to connect Russia and Germany, but critics have called for more decisive action.
In a report drawn up at the request of Congress, the State Department named 18 predominantly Western companies that will not be subject to sanctions, the Foreign Office and lawmakers said.
The companies have made “a good faith effort to wind down Nord Stream 2 activities,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“This shows that the goals of the legislators and our actions are working well,” he said, referring to the rejection of the project by the two main American parties, which dates back to the days of former President Donald Trump.
Price named only one company that will be subject to US sanctions. This is the Russian company KBT-Rus, which, according to him, is laying pipes for Nord Stream 2.
The company owns the Russian pipe-laying vessel Fortuna, which is involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, which is included by the US Treasury Department on the sanctions list under the Protection of European Energy Security Act (PEESA).
A month earlier, it came under US restrictive measures under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The sanctions include the blocking of assets of legal entities and a ban on banking operations in the United States.
The first sanctions against “Fortune” and “KBT-Rus” were imposed by the United States on January 19.
Despite the imposition of restrictive measures, the pipelayer continued work on the completion of Nord Stream 2.
Now work is underway in the territorial waters of Denmark.
Biden continues to criticize Nord Stream 2, claiming that it encourages Russia and weakens leverage in vulnerable countries like Ukraine.
President Biden believes Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a briefing.
“This is a bad deal because it divides Europe, subjects Ukraine and Central Europe to manipulation by Russia and because it runs counter to Europe’s stated energy and security goals,” she said.
“We continue to monitor the completion or certification of the pipeline, and if such activities take place, we will decide whether to impose sanctions,” said Jen Paski.
“They are just one of many important tools for ensuring energy security,” she said. “Therefore, we will also work with our allies and partners to strengthen European energy security.”
At the same time, the Biden administration has pledged to work more actively with European countries, including Germany, which claims the project is vital for energy supplies, despite concerns about Russia.
“As far as our allies and partners are concerned, it’s fair to say that our actions will not take them by surprise,” Price said.
“We will continue to monitor activities that may lead to additional penalties, including sanctions, but I think it would be wrong to think of sanctions as the only tool in our toolbox,” he added.
In an article published in Politico magazine, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmitry Kuleba warned that Russia is “dangerously close” to the end of Nord Stream 2.
The Ukrainians are convinced that if it succeeds, the West will not worry about their safety, they wrote.
“We urge US President Joe Biden to use every means at his disposal to prevent the completion of the project,” they wrote.
Republican lawmakers, in turn, accused Biden of reneging on his promises to tighten his approach to Russia.
“This report is a gift to Russia and its efforts to undermine European energy security, destabilize Ukraine, and promote corruption and its detrimental effects across Europe,” said leading Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Rich.