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Sanctions Plan for Nord Stream Pipeline to be Scrambled

Top Senate Democrats and the Biden administration are working behind the scenes to defeat a bill introduced by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that would impose Sanctions on companies involved in a major pipeline connecting Russia and Germany, in order to maintain Democratic unity during high-level US talks with Russia. Several Democrats are debating whether to break with the administration and support the Cruz bill, fearful of seeming soft on Russia amid escalating tensions with Ukraine and wanting to send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, notably on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Approval of the measure would be a humiliation for the Biden administration, which has claimed that the penalties will undermine US attempts to dissuade Iran. Democrats are discreetly preparing an alternative plan, backed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and lobbying their members to vote for it instead of Cruz’s. According to Democratic senators, this measure would inflict Sanctions on Russia only if it attacked Ukraine.

It’s unclear whether the administration supports the Menendez bill in its entirety, but it’s been the subject of escalating discussions among Democrats, including a private meeting with senior State Department official Victoria Nuland in the Senate on Monday night. Cruz compelled Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to agree to a vote on his Nord Stream 2 bill this week after delaying the approval of hundreds of Biden’s nominations for ambassadorships and other high-level State Department positions.

It’s uncertain whether it would be brought up by the Democratic-controlled House if it passed the Senate. Even still, several Democrats are considering supporting the bill, bringing it closer to the 60 votes required for success.

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