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Washington, DC – House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX), House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and August Pfluger (R-TX) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing concerns over the Biden Administration’s implementation plans for the mandatory Nord Stream 2 sanctions required under the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA), as amended by the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA). The letter also asks for clarity on why numerous entities reportedly engaged in sanctionable activity related to the Russian malign Nord Stream 2 pipeline project have yet to be sanctioned.

“We are deeply concerned that the Administration’s strong statements in opposition to the pipeline are not being matched by equally strong actions,” the lawmakers wrote. “Instead, it appears the Administration is talking tough while hiding behind an opaque ‘evidentiary threshold’ to avoid the full implementation of mandatory Congressional sanctions as required by law. The Administration’s recent decision to sanction only the Russian pipe-laying vessel ‘Fortuna’ and its owner, KVT- RUS, which had both already been designated by the prior Administration, was emblematic of this troubling inconsistency.

“Given the shrinking window before the Nord Stream 2 pipeline’s completion, we urge you to submit to Congress new sanctions designations as soon as the required information becomes available, rather than wait until May 17th, when the current 90-day reporting period ends and the next mandatory report to Congress is due,” the lawmakers continued. “We believe this would be consistent with your Administration’s rhetoric on the pipeline, including your comments at your confirmation hearing emphasizing that the Biden Administration was “determined to do whatever we can to prevent” the completion of the project.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We write to you to express deep concerns about the Biden Administration’s implementation plans for the Nord Stream 2 sanctions required under the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA), as amended by the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA).

Open-source reporting has cited numerous entities suspected of being engaged in sanctionable activity related to the Russian malign Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. However, we have been informed that the State Department requires additional information on these entities before it can issue any further sanctions designations. Critical to our ability to conduct Congressional oversight and to ensure adherence to the spirit and letter of the law is a clearer understanding of the “evidentiary threshold” the State Department is using when weighing additional sanctions designations under PEESA, as amended. Therefore, we ask not only for an assessment of the updated list of entities provided below that are believed to have engaged in sanctionable activity, but also more specifics on precisely what more information the State Department requires to make additional sanctions designations.

We are deeply concerned that the Administration’s strong statements in opposition to the pipeline are not being matched by equally strong actions. Instead, it appears the Administration is talking tough while hiding behind an opaque “evidentiary threshold” to avoid the full implementation of mandatory Congressional sanctions as required by law. The Administration’s recent decision to sanction only the Russian pipe-laying vessel “Fortuna” and its owner, KVT- RUS, which had both already been designated by the prior Administration, was emblematic of this troubling inconsistency.

We fear this discrepancy can only be explained by a desire to leave space for a backdoor deal with Germany. Any deal that does not stop the completion of Nord Stream 2 would be misguided. Moreover, if the Biden Administration agrees to a deal with Germany that trades away mandatory Congressional sanctions in exchange for a vague commitment to ensure Ukrainian gas transit or a promise to invest in European energy infrastructure, it would not only undermine U.S. and European security interests, but also represent an affront to Congress’ Constitutional prerogatives. Finally, it would be extremely concerning if our other European allies and partners were not consulted on U.S. negotiations with Berlin on the pipeline, given that the majority of Europe continues to oppose the completion of this Russian malign influence project. In particular, our strategic partner Ukraine and our Central and Eastern European allies must be consulted in earnest, not simply notified, on negotiations with Berlin.

To be clear, we support this Administration’s efforts to reinvigorate the U.S.-German relationship. Strong bilateral relations with Germany are critical to U.S. national security interests. However, Nord Stream 2 is not simply an irritant in bilateral relations with Berlin. It is a Russian malign influence project that threatens to deepen Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and, consequently, enhance the Putin regime’s ability to exert political pressure throughout Europe. It would also allow the Putin regime to bypass Ukraine in exporting natural gas to Western Europe, decoupling the security of Ukraine from broader European security and rendering Kyiv more vulnerable to Russian aggression.

Given the shrinking window before the Nord Stream 2 pipeline’s completion, we urge you to submit to Congress new sanctions designations as soon as the required information becomes available, rather than wait until May 17th, when the current 90-day reporting period ends and the next mandatory report to Congress is due. We believe this would be consistent with your Administration’s rhetoric on the pipeline, including your comments at your confirmation hearing emphasizing that the Biden Administration was “determined to do whatever we can to prevent” the completion of the project.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your swift reply and discussing further during your appearance on March 10th before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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