WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday sanctioned the Russian company responsible for building and operating the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, along with its executives.
Biden said in a report the sanctions are part of the “initial tranche” of economic restrictions the United States began imposing on Russia earlier this week after it sent troops to eastern Ukraine.
“Through his actions, President Putin has provided the world with an overwhelming incentive to move away from Russian gas and other forms of energy,” Biden said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended the approval process earlier this week in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. And Biden said Wednesday the two had “closely coordinated” their response.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea, is a multi-billion dollar project that its parent company has completed, although the pipeline is not yet operational – and at least for now will not follow the actions American and German. .
“He is currently dead at the bottom of the sea,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
Nord Stream 2 AG, the entity sanctioned on Wednesday, was set up under Russian gas company Gazprom to manage the pipeline project. The pipeline would transport gas from vast reserves in Russia to the European Union market, landing in Germany.
The sanctions announcement marks the third straight day the Biden administration has detailed the economic repercussions for the Russian government in a bid to prevent further escalation in Ukraine.
Monday, the administration Rod new investment, trade and finance in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic – the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared independent.
Tuesday, Biden announcement sanctions against two Russian financial institutions; Russian sovereign debt, cutting off the nation from Western financing; and Russian elites and their family members, who Biden says “share in the corrupt gains” of Russian politics.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen noted the sanctions “would start the process of dismantling the Kremlin’s financial network and its ability to finance destabilizing activities in Ukraine and around the world.”
Biden also said on Tuesday that he had authorized the transfer of US military personnel and equipment already in Europe to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – all of which are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Biden reiterated that he had no intention of sending American soldiers to Ukraine to confront Russian troops, but said he wanted to send an “unequivocal message” that the United States “will defend every square inch of the NATO territory”.
PSAKI said Wednesday that the administration was aware of Russian officials promising countersanctions against the United States, but declined to elaborate on whether US officials knew what that might be.
PSAKI said if Russia retaliates against the United States in a way that causes energy prices to spike, releasing more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is “certainly on the table” as a way to minimize the impact on energy markets.
The Biden administration, she said, does not expect the sanctions announced this week to have an impact on Americans. But Psaki said officials were preparing for Putin’s next steps.
If the Russian government steps up, Psaki said, the White House has a “range of actions” it is prepared to take, particularly on financial institutions.
“There are huge financial institutions – the two biggest banks, for example – that weren’t part of the announcement we made yesterday,” Psaki said. “There are additional measures to which we have expressed our openness, including taking action with regard to export controls. So these are assessments that we will continue to do internally.
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