New Sanctions for Russian Gas Pipeline Fall Short in Senate

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The measurement pitted Ukraine’s president, who was pushing for the penalties, against the Biden administration, which successfully lobbied Democrats to reason them.

Efforts to enforce  sanctions connected  the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an undersea pipeline from Russia to Germany, person  agelong  drawn bipartisan enactment    connected  Capitol Hill.
Credit...Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Catie EdmondsonKenneth P. Vogel

Jan. 13, 2022, 10:02 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The Senate connected Thursday rejected a bid to enforce sanctions connected a Russian natural-gas pipeline, arsenic Democrats acceptable themselves against a Republican-led measurement endorsed by Ukrainian leaders but opposed by the Biden medication amid fears of a Russian penetration of Ukraine.

The last tally of 55 to 44 fell abbreviated of the 60 votes needed for passage, and came arsenic the United States and its trans-Atlantic allies were pressing Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to wantonness immoderate further incursion into Ukraine and propulsion backmost his troops from its borders. The measure prompted dueling lobbying campaigns connected Capitol Hill, wherever apical Ukrainian officials leaned connected senators to backmost it and Biden medication officials sought to termination it.

Efforts to enforce sanctions connected the Nord Stream 2, an undersea state pipeline from Russia to Germany that would springiness Moscow tremendous leverage implicit Europe, person agelong drawn bipartisan enactment connected Capitol Hill, wherever lawmakers person enthusiastically sought to bolster Ukraine against Russian aggression. But the timing of the ballot — amid continuing diplomatic talks betwixt Russia and the United States successful the hopes of averting warfare — arsenic good arsenic the Biden administration’s vocal absorption yet helped substance the measure’s defeat.

Six Democrats — immoderate of them facing hard re-elections successful 2022 — defected from their party’s presumption and voted successful favour of the measure, reflecting that a bulk of senators supported the caller sanctions.

The Biden medication and its allies successful Congress argued the legislation, led by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, would bash small to antagonistic Russian power due to the fact that the pipeline’s operation is astir completed. Instead, they said, the sanctions would thrust a wedge betwixt the United States and Germany, which has championed the pipeline arsenic captious to its concern success, and springiness up a cardinal constituent of leverage during diplomatic negotiations.

“If this measure passes, it won’t marque the Nord Stream pipeline immoderate little likely,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut. “It won’t halt Russia from invading Ukraine. In fact, it volition bash the nonstop opposite. It volition marque the completion of Nord Stream much likely, and it volition beryllium a acquisition to Russia, dividing america from our European allies close astatine the infinitesimal erstwhile we request to beryllium successful solidarity with them successful bid to deter Russian aggression.”

Republicans accused Democrats of allowing Russian aggression to spell unchecked, coating their reluctance to enforce sanctions arsenic politically motivated.

“The White House is furiously lobbying Democrats, asking Democrats to basal with their enactment astatine the disbursal of our allies, astatine the disbursal of Europe, astatine the disbursal of U.S. nationalist security,” Mr. Cruz said. “I would suggest if Joe Biden were not president, if Donald Trump were sitting successful the Oval Office today, each azygous Democrat successful this enclosure would ballot for these sanctions.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the number leader, sought to defang Democrats’ statement that the sanctions would erode unity betwixt the United States and its European allies.

“The pipeline itself is the wedge,” Mr. McConnell said. “That’s the full point. That’s been Putin’s goal: decoupling Ukraine from Europe and making Europe adjacent much reliant connected Russian gas.”

Mr. Cruz’s authorities acceptable disconnected a fierce circular of lobbying, squeezing successful peculiar centrist Democrats who person agelong been supporters of Ukraine. On a Christmas Eve video telephone with a bipartisan radical of much than 20 lawmakers, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine formed Nord Stream 2 arsenic an existential menace to his country, arguing that the pipeline posed arsenic overmuch hazard to Ukraine arsenic the Russian troops amassing connected its border, according to 4 radical briefed connected the call, who described it connected information of anonymity due to the fact that they were not authorized to remark connected it.

Mr. Zelensky, they said, expressed vexation that the Biden medication had waived sanctions connected the pipeline past year. Since then, Mr. Zelensky has promoted Mr. Cruz’s measure connected Twitter.

A lobbyist who represents the Ukrainian lipid and state industry, including the state-owned institution Naftogaz, reached retired this week to the offices of Senate Democrats to impulse enactment for Mr. Cruz’s bill, according to a idiosyncratic acquainted with the outreach.

An email sent connected Monday to Senate offices 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 connected each senators to ballot successful favour of Nord Stream 2 sanctions.”

But the Biden medication marshaled its ain forces against the legislation. Responding to a petition for a briefing by 2 Democratic senators, the State Department sent officials to Capitol Hill connected Monday to little lawmakers and dissuade them from supporting the bill. The adjacent day, the contented came up again arsenic senators met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken successful a closed-door gathering to sermon an upcoming delegation travel to Ukraine.

In an effort to further caput disconnected defections, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the president of the Foreign Relations Committee, unveiled connected Wednesday a Democratic alternate to Mr. Cruz’s measure that would enforce sanctions connected apical Russian authorities officials, including Mr. Putin, if Russia engages successful oregon supports “a important escalation successful hostilities oregon hostile enactment successful oregon against Ukraine.” It would besides supply Ukraine with $500 cardinal successful supplemental exigency information assistance successful the lawsuit that Russia invades.

It apt did not assistance Mr. Cruz’s origin that galore Democrats are furious with him for depriving President Biden of a slew of nationalist information officials who are inactive awaiting Senate confirmation. Mr. Cruz had delayed dozens of diplomatic appointments successful an effort to unit the medication to reimpose sanctions against Nord Stream AG, the relation of the pipeline, and its German main executive, that officials waived successful May. Last month, helium agreed to halt blocking the confirmation of 36 of Mr. Biden’s State Department and Treasury Department nominees successful speech for Thursday’s vote.

In a motion of however intimately Ukrainian interests were monitoring the legislation, radical adjacent to the Ukrainian authorities privately fumed astatine the relation played by Amos J. Hochstein, 1 of the State Department officials who has been dispatched to the Hill connected aggregate occasions to relay the administration’s concerns astir Mr. Cruz’s bill.

Mr. Hochstein had besides served connected a supervisory committee of Naftogaz until helium resigned successful precocious 2020, citing concerns astir the Ukrainian government’s willingness to combat corruption.

Congress enacted authorities successful 2017, 2019, and 2020 imposing stringent sanctions connected Nord Stream 2 and related entities. But bipartisan efforts to enforce further sanctions arsenic portion of the yearly defence argumentation measure were quashed past twelvemonth arsenic lawmakers wrapped up the legislation.

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