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Metal pile at sea

Washington. Emily Heber looks unusual and unpleasant to finish a few days ago. In the political magazine of the right-wing Fox News Channel, the US ambassador to Germany faced massive criticism of Germany’s distrust of the coalition in the Ukraine crisis and Germany’s opportunism. Yes, his country has strict laws on arms exports, the diplomat agreed. But in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 “is definitely on the table.”

The carefully implied approval of the Baltic Sea pipeline quotes a report by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholes (SPD) and suggests sharpening the tone from a German perspective. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to quell widespread discontent over Berlin in Washington. From an American perspective, Nord Stream 2 is not on the table, but has been on the way to the tank for a long time.

“We are in the last meter of bipartisan motivation,” Democrat Senator Bob Menendez announced in a law on CNN on Sunday morning, calling it the “mother of all sanctions” aimed at “kneeling” the Russian economy. Congress’ punishing maneuver should also hit North Stream 2. Last summer, President Joe Biden overturned a parliamentary decision against the pipeline in light of Atlantic maritime relations. Two weeks ago, another attempt by Republicans and Democrats over the question of when sanctions would take effect failed. A potential compromise between the two parties is now emerging, which will be backed by the White House.

Delay in certification allows decision of restrictions

Although Republicans have so far called for an immediate end to the pipeline, Democrats want to use the closure of the pipeline as a means of pressure and implement it only in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We continue to disagree,” Jim Rish, a senior Republican senator from the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday. At the same time, however, he pointed out that the situation had changed: “Germany has signaled that it will suspend the certification of Nord Stream 2 for six months”. In fact, Jochen Homan, head of the Federal Network Agency, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that completing the pending tests was “unlikely in the first half of this year.”

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This breathing space opens up “opportunities where we can work,” Republican Rish pointed out, now moving away from the demand for immediate North Stream sanctions. This would pave the way for a non-partisan move that Democrat Mendes wants the Senate to approve earlier this week with a two-party vote. In addition to the pipe sanctions in the event of an invasion, there are further massive sanctions against Russia’s banking system and economy. Moreover, US military aid to Ukraine is set to increase immediately.

This would mark the end of the Baltic Sea pipeline in the event of Russian military action. Such a decision would be entirely in line with the Biden government: “If Russia invades Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 will not be operational,” said Victoria Nuland, head of the Foreign Office’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Last week, he responded quietly to a journalist’s objection, saying the pipe had already been laid, the pipe was not approved or certified, so it was “currently a pile of metal at sea”.