United States President Joseph Biden Lifts Sanctions on Nord Stream 2

What are the impacts of President Biden’s decision on Poland, Germany, and the Kremlin? What are the negative consequences of Nord Stream 2?

by PAC Intern Alexander Tantum

On May 20, 2021, United States President Joseph Biden waived the country’s sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline, which is currently being built, is a gas pipeline that will connect the Kremlin to Germany through the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream 2 poses a significant threat to other European nations, including those involved in the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), specifically towards their energy security. Through the pipeline, the Kremlin is essentially bullying 3SI member nations by weaponizing gas, and at the same time, undermining Europe’s energy security by putting a monopoly on energy. With the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, there will be less competition within the energy sector, which could potentially damage the European energy economy, and the economy as a whole. Additionally, European countries will have to rely too much upon Russia for their energy with the pipeline in place. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is more than 95% completed, according to BBC News, and the Kremlin continues to exercise aggression towards many European countries.

Under the previous administration of President Donald J. Trump, the United States rightfully endorsed sanctions on the pipeline, sharing the belief that it was a threat to many European countries. However, the current leader of the country, Joseph Biden, has come to the unfortunate decision to waive those sanctions. While President Biden has said that he opposes the building of Nord Stream 2, and his Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, stated during his confirmation hearing that he was “determined to do whatever we can to prevent the completion,” the action of lifting the sanctions by President Biden shows something contrary to that. 

There are members of both parties in Congress that have opposed the decision of the Biden administration. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) criticized the administration’s decision, urging them to “move forward with the congressionally mandated sanctions.” Both the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James Risch (R-ID), and in the House on foreign affairs, Michael McCaul (R-TX) also criticized the move. Meanwhile, President Biden’s reasoning for the lifting of pipeline sanctions was because it is almost finished. He stated that while he has been opposed to the construction of Nord Stream 2 “from the beginning,” it would be counterproductive to continue to impose sanctions now. However, President Biden has not directly acknowledged the Kremlin’s weaponizing of gas and energy through the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. President Biden seems to be capitulating to the Kremlin with his lifting of sanctions, and as Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated, the project “…has been breaking European solidarity.” Prime Minister Morawiecki also said that he still hopes “…the US position will leave the Nord Stream 2 project unfinished.” The Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be detrimental to Poland along with other Three Seas Initiative member nations, particularly with regards to the nations’ economies. The collective Three Seas Initiative economy needs to remain strong, and the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be an obstacle in maintaining that economic security.

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