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Sen. Cruz: If U.S. Fails to Halt Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, We Will Have Vastly Strengthened Putin’s Hands at the Expense of the Rest of the Free World

Renews calls for the Senate to take up and pass bipartisan bill to stop Nord Stream 2 pipeline

November 20, 2019

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today raised his concerns with President Trump's nominee to be Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun, about the dangers of Russia's Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline that will allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to further control Europe's energy security:

"Nord Stream 2, if completed, would help Russia. It would strengthen Putin. It would generate billions of dollars that could be used to fuel Russian aggression. And at the same time, it would hurt all of Europe by making Western Europe more dependent on Russian energy, more subject to economic coercion, and more subject to economic blackmail. I think it is better for all parties concerned for Europe to be able to get energy from sources that won't use it as economic blackmail. And were Europe to be importing energy from the United States, that means jobs here at home instead of enriching Putin."

At the hearing, Sen. Cruz renewed his call for the full Senate to take up and pass the Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act of 2019 (S. 1441), bipartisan legislation he introduced with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) which would impose devastating, targeted sanctions on vessels that Putin needs to complete the pipeline:

"As you know, this committee passed my bipartisan legislation on North Stream 2 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote 20-2. That legislation is right now pending on the floor. I'm hopeful that the Senate will take it up, and that the House will pass it. Our window for getting this done is rapidly shrinking. [...] The current projections are the pipeline will be completed by January. Which means we have maybe two months to get this done. And if we fail to get it done, we will have vastly strengthened Putin's hands at the expense of the rest of the free world. I hope that the Senate acts, takes it up on the floor, and passes it. And [that] the House does as well."

Sen. Cruz added:

"There is an alternative way to get the job done, which is under CAATSA [the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act]. The administration already has the authority to impose the sanctions. [...] If Congress passes the legislation, or if the administration simply uses its existing authority under CAATSA to implement the same policy--to sanction any company that lays this deep-sea pipe, Nord Stream 2 will stop in its tracks. So I want to encourage you, Mr. Biegun, to go back to the administration to the debate that is occurring as we speak and make abundantly clear that giving speeches saying the administration is opposed to Nord Stream 2 is a completely empty gesture. If the administration is not willing to act under its statutory authority it has right now to stop the pipeline [then] the strength of the rhetoric, the strength of the denunciations of North Stream 2 will be measured by one simple test: Did we allow the pipeline to be built or not? And the administration, with the flip of a switch, can stop this pipeline."

As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch said:

"I'm sure you know, Mr. Biegun, that Senator Cruz's passion on this is not limited to Senator Cruz himself. This is widespread here in this institution. He speaks for the vast majority, I think, of the United States Congress on this issue."

Sen. Cruz's full line of questioning at today's hearing may be viewed here and below:

Sen. Cruz: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Biegun, congratulations on your nomination. I want to start by talking about a topic you and I discussed yesterday afternoon, which is North Stream 2. In your judgment, what would the consequences be for Russia, for Europe, and for America if Nord Stream 2 is completed and goes online?

Mr. Stephen Biegun: Senator, as I said to you yesterday and I will affirm here, it is our policy in the United States government that we oppose the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We think that it will add leverage to Russia's ability to bring political influence to bear upon many of our partners and allies in Europe. It will also potentially cause economic damage to Ukraine by bypassing Ukraine with important energy supplies. More importantly, it seems to me that it'll also cement in place a certain status quo that I think needs to fundamentally change. Which is that Russia should be engaged in a transparent, legitimate way with our European friends and allies. But they shouldn't be given undue influence, and certainly not under the circumstances in which we see Russian policies being guided today. Which is to actively subvert many of our friends and allies in Europe, and I think this pipeline is simply one more tool they'll be able to use.

Sen. Cruz: Well, I agree with you. Nord Stream 2, if completed, would help Russia. It would strengthen Putin. It would generate billions of dollars that could be used to fuel Russian aggression. And at the same time, it would hurt all of Europe by making Western Europe more dependent on Russian energy, more subject to economic coercion, and more subject to economic blackmail. I think it is better for all parties concerned for Europe to be able to get energy from sources that won't use it as economic blackmail. And were Europe to be importing energy from the United States that means jobs here at home instead of enriching Putin.

As you know, this committee passed my bipartisan legislation on Nord Stream 2 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote 20-2. That legislation is right now pending on the floor. I'm hopeful that the Senate will take it up, and that the House will pass it. Our window for getting this done is rapidly shrinking. Our window for getting this done--the current projections are the pipeline will be completed by January, which means we have maybe two months to get this done. And if we fail to get it done, we will have vastly strengthened Putin's hands at the expense of the rest of the free world. I hope that the Senate acts, takes it up on the floor and passes it. And the House does as well. But there is an alternative way to get the job done, which is under CAATSA. The administration already has the authority to impose these sanctions. There is right now on active debate within the administration about whether or not to use that authority. The legislation that has overwhelming bipartisan support is narrowly tailored, it is designed like a scalpel to stop this pipeline and do nothing more. There are five companies on the face of the planet that have the technology to lay the deep-sea pipeline. The Russians lack that technology themselves. They've contracted with two European companies. If Congress passes the legislation, or if the administration simply uses its existing authority under CAATSA to implement the same policy--to sanction any company that lays this deep-sea pipe, Nord Stream 2 will stop in its tracks. So I want to encourage you, Mr. Biegun, to go back to the administration to the debate that is occurring as we speak and make abundantly clear that giving speeches saying the administration is opposed to Nord Stream 2 is a completely empty gesture. If the administration is not willing to act under its statutory authority it has right now to stop the pipeline [then] the strength of the rhetoric, the strength of the denunciations of North Stream 2 will be measured by one simple test: Did we allow the pipeline to be built or not? And the administration, with the flip of a switch, can stop this pipeline. And so, I would encourage you to carry that message back. There are voices within the administration that are resisting using this authority. And I think those arguments--and in fact, the arguments they are posing is they hypothesized that well, ‘Maybe Russia has ships that might be able to lay this pipeline after all.' Now my team thinks that they are incorrect in their assessment. But even if they are correct, the worst outcome is that imposing the sanctions on the companies delaying the deep-sea pipe would delay North Stream 2 by over a year and cost billions more to Putin, delaying the benefits. The best outcome, and the outcome that I think is likely, is we stop the pipeline altogether. Either way, that is a win-win. So, I would encourage you to carry that to your colleagues.

Mr. Biegun: Thank you, Senator. And as you said yesterday you've also had a chance to discuss this with Secretary Pompeo. I have not seen him since then. He's on travel currently. But I assure you I will follow his lead on this.

Sen. Jim Risch: Thank you, Senator. And, I'm sure you know, Mr. Biegun, that Senator Cruz's passion on this is not limited to Senator Cruz himself. This is widespread here in this institution. He speaks for the vast majority, I think, of the United States Congress on this issue.

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