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US Senate decision: cold war or export promotion?

Last week the US Senate voted nearly unanimously for new sanctions on Russia

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Monday, June 19, 2017

The new legislation allows new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways and targets Russian guilty of conducting cyber-attacks and supplying weapons to Syria’s government. The new punitive measures could expose European companies involved project in Russia to fines. This could include – and here we have it! - the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
The new legislation allows new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways and targets Russian guilty of conducting cyber-attacks and supplying weapons to Syria’s government. The new punitive measures could expose European companies involved project in Russia to fines. This could include – and here we have it! - the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

by N. Peter Kramer

In a move that could complicate President’s Trump desire to normalise relations with Moscow, the US Senate backed the measure by 98-2. Interesting was that one of the 2 no-votes came from senator Bernie Sanders, who was Hillary Clinton’s opponent for the Democratic candidacy for the US Presidency.  After the Senate, the measure has to pass the House of Representatives, and signed into law by President Trump. 
The new legislation allows new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways and targets Russian guilty of conducting cyber-attacks and supplying weapons to Syria’s government. The new punitive measures could expose European companies involved project in Russia to fines. This could include – and here we have it! - the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. 

The Senate said it was the policy of the US to continue to oppose Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying, it would have too much impact on the EU’s energy security and energy reforms in Ukraine. Gazprom and its European partners are pushing ahead with the plan to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream undersea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany as Moscow seeks to diversify its energy supplies and want to bypass Ukraine that turned out in the past to be an unreliable link in the energy supply chain. 

Insiders, quoted by Interfax, have the impression that the proposed US sanctions are aimed at boosting liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the US to Europe: ‘they don’t conceal that these (sanctions) are aimed at ensuring American LNG to Europe’.  At the moment, the European Commission is trying to mediate between EU member states in favour and against Nord Stream 2. But Merkel sees no special role for the Commission. ‘I think some legal questions need to be clarified in relation to Nord Stream 2’, she said, ‘It is an economic project’. 

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