Sat, 22 Jan 2022

Washington [US], January 12 (ANI/Sputnik): US Democratic senators will present a new Russia sanctions bill later on Wednesday that would bring "severe costs" to the Russian economy in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, in an effort backed by the White House, The Washington Post reported.

The effort is led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez.

The measure comes as the Biden administration tries to prevent Democrat defection in support of a Republican-led bill targeting Russia's Nord Stream 2, an effort the White House says may undermine its reengagement with Europe.

Menendez's legislation would entail sweeping sanctions on top Russian military brass and government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as well as key banking institutions, the report said.

It would also hit companies in Russia that offer secure messaging systems such as SWIFT. Pledging more security assistance to Ukraine, the bill calls on the United States to "consider all available and appropriate measures" to ensure Nord Stream 2 is not put into operation.

The White House supports the bill, a spokesperson for the National Security Council told The Washington Post, noting that other measures, such as the one being pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz, will "not counter further Russian aggression or protect Ukraine.""Instead, it will undermine our efforts to deter Russia and remove leverage the United States and our allies and partners possess in this moment all to score political points at home," the spokesperson said on the condition of anonymity. "And it would come at a moment where we need to be closely united with our European partners, including Germany. It makes no sense."Cruz has long been trying to push through a bill that would force the US government to re-impose economic sanctions on the company building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In fall 2021, Cruz blocked the confirmation of nearly 60 ambassadors in a bid to secure a vote on his bill to sanction the pipeline. He lifted his block after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged that a vote on Cruz's bill would take place by January 14.

The White House is concerned that new sanctions on the Russian pipeline would undermine US relations with European partners, at a critical time when Washington is trying to de-escalate tensions in the region.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, completed in September, will deliver gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. The process of certifying Nord Stream 2 AG as the pipeline's independent operator is currently underway to ensure the project complies with the conditions of the February 12, 2019 EU Gas Directive. German regulators are expected to decide on the certification in the second half of 2022. (ANI/Sputnik)

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