US waives sanctions against Russian firm building gas pipeline to Germany

Published May 21, 2021
This file photo shows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. — Reuters/File
This file photo shows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. — Reuters/File

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Thursday praised the waiving of US sanctions against the Russian-controlled builder of a Russia-Germany gas pipeline, while Ukraine’s leader warned Joe Biden’s administration against cancelling the sanctions altogether.

The US waiver was announced as Moscow and Washington seek to defuse the biggest crisis in ties in years ahead of a planned summit between Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday, the United States formally waived sanctions against Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG, the Russian-controlled builder of a major Russian-German gas pipeline.

The US announcement was a significant reversal of Washington’s earlier stance and was primarily aimed at easing tensions between Washington and Berlin over the $12-billion project, which Germany and other European countries see as crucial to securing long-term energy supplies.

But US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said that Biden’s administration would “continue to oppose the completion of this project”, arguing it would weaken European energy security.

Russian neighbours Ukra­ine, Poland and the Baltic states have fiercely opposed the pipeline, fearing it will increase Moscow’s political leverage in regional politics.

The US announcement came as Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in Reykjavik, the first high-profile talks between the two countries under Biden’s administration.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2021

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