“The physical completion of the pipeline was, I think, a fait accompli,” Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, saying that about 90% of the pipeline was completed during the Trump administration. “I think we have an opportunity to make something positive out of a bad hand that we inherited when we came into office.”
Blinken said that sanctioning the chief executive officer of the project’s parent company, as opponents of the pipeline urged, would have led to a deterioration in U.S.-German relations. Now, he said, Germany has “come to the table” to try to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from using the pipeline to threaten Europe’s energy security.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the committee’s top Republican, said in a tweet as Blinken testified that “it’s unacceptable that our strategic partner #Ukraine found out about the shameful decision to waive critical #NordStream2 sanctions through the press & not the Biden Admin directly.”
He said President Joe Biden should use “the mandatory authorities Congress provided to stop the pipeline” and that Biden should meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy before his coming summit with Putin because allowing the pipeline to become operational “will render Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian aggression.”
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, announced that the president had spoken with Zelenskiy on Monday and invited him to visit the White House this summer. Biden assured Zelenskiy during the call that in his meeting with Putin, “he will stand up firmly for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and aspirations.”
More than 60 House Republicans sent a letter to Biden on Monday saying that completion of Nord Stream 2 “will be a gift to Putin and his efforts to increase geopolitical influence in Europe.”
“Waiving sanctions for Nord Stream 2 ‘because it’s almost completely finished’ is the wrong message to our allies and partners and undermines our credibility and global leadership,” they said.