US Senate bipartisan support for Nord Stream 2 sanctions

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bipartisan bill to sanction any company and individual that helps Russia build the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.

The nearly completed Nord Stream 2 is a pair of pipelines that will run under the Baltic Sea for 767 miles from Russia to Germany.  Russia's Gazprom is paying for half of the $11.1-billion construction cost, and European Union distribution partners Engie, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall are paying the balance.  The pipeline path follows an existing pair of underwater gas pipelines that was opened in 2012.

The annual 55-billion-cubic-meter capacity is the equivalent of 700 LNG tankers and will supply the energy needs of approximately 26 million households.  At the average German Border price of $6 per cubic meter, Russia will pocket $330 billion per year.

But the pipeline threatens to end $3 billion in revenues that Ukraine currently receives from Gazprom each year as "transit gateway" for nearly 40 percent of the 193 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas that flows into Europe each year.

Prior to 2014, Ukraine was a close ally of Russia with a democratically elected president named Viktor Yanukovych.  According to the Obama administration, there was a popular "color" revolution that overthrew an evil regime and brought in U.S-favored prime minister candidate Arseniy Yatsenyuk to take power.

But the Russians bugged a call and released a transcript of U.S. assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and the ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, allegedly organizing a coup.  With Russian-allied eastern provinces in a state of war with the central government, completing the Nord Stream 2 by year's end would allow the Russians to shut down its Ukraine gas pipelines and starve what they call the evil traitors.  

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the "Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act," by a vote of 20 to 2.  The only opposition came from Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democrat Senator Tom Udall.  Paul has complained that it sanctions U.S. allies and harms international companies that employ thousands of Americans.

The committee minority leader, Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez, said he backs the bill because it was important to reinforce U.S. ties with Germany.  But Berlin opposes sanctions, because it claims that the Nord Stream is good for Europe and its economy.

A bill would still need to pass the full Senate and be reconciled with a similar measure that passed the House of Representatives last fall, before it can go to the White House.  President Trump has stated that he supports some Nord Stream 2 sanctions, but he has also been lobbying Europe to imports billions of dollars of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to help diversify European natural gas sources of supply away from Russia.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bipartisan bill to sanction any company and individual that helps Russia build the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.

The nearly completed Nord Stream 2 is a pair of pipelines that will run under the Baltic Sea for 767 miles from Russia to Germany.  Russia's Gazprom is paying for half of the $11.1-billion construction cost, and European Union distribution partners Engie, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall are paying the balance.  The pipeline path follows an existing pair of underwater gas pipelines that was opened in 2012.

The annual 55-billion-cubic-meter capacity is the equivalent of 700 LNG tankers and will supply the energy needs of approximately 26 million households.  At the average German Border price of $6 per cubic meter, Russia will pocket $330 billion per year.

But the pipeline threatens to end $3 billion in revenues that Ukraine currently receives from Gazprom each year as "transit gateway" for nearly 40 percent of the 193 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas that flows into Europe each year.

Prior to 2014, Ukraine was a close ally of Russia with a democratically elected president named Viktor Yanukovych.  According to the Obama administration, there was a popular "color" revolution that overthrew an evil regime and brought in U.S-favored prime minister candidate Arseniy Yatsenyuk to take power.

But the Russians bugged a call and released a transcript of U.S. assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and the ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, allegedly organizing a coup.  With Russian-allied eastern provinces in a state of war with the central government, completing the Nord Stream 2 by year's end would allow the Russians to shut down its Ukraine gas pipelines and starve what they call the evil traitors.  

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the "Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act," by a vote of 20 to 2.  The only opposition came from Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democrat Senator Tom Udall.  Paul has complained that it sanctions U.S. allies and harms international companies that employ thousands of Americans.

The committee minority leader, Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez, said he backs the bill because it was important to reinforce U.S. ties with Germany.  But Berlin opposes sanctions, because it claims that the Nord Stream is good for Europe and its economy.

A bill would still need to pass the full Senate and be reconciled with a similar measure that passed the House of Representatives last fall, before it can go to the White House.  President Trump has stated that he supports some Nord Stream 2 sanctions, but he has also been lobbying Europe to imports billions of dollars of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to help diversify European natural gas sources of supply away from Russia.