“The pipeline itself is the wedge,” said McConnell. “That’s the whole point. That is Putin’s goal: to separate Ukraine from Europe and make Europe more dependent on Russian gas.”
Mr. Cruz’s act has created a fierce lobbying circle, especially among centrist Democrats, who have long supported Ukraine. During a Christmas Eve video call with a bipartisan group of more than 20 lawmakers, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine saw Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to his country, claiming the pipeline posed many risks for Ukraine as the Russian military accumulates it. border, according to four people briefed on the call, who described it on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the call.
Mr. Zelensky, they said, expressed disappointment that the Biden administration waived sanctions on the pipeline last year. Since then, Mr. Zelensky has promoted Mr. Cruz’s bill on Twitter.
A lobbyist representing Ukraine’s oil and gas industry, including state-owned company Naftogaz, reached out to the offices of Senate Democrats this week to urge support for his bill. Cruz, according to a person familiar with the outreach.
An email sent by the lobbyist to Senate offices on Monday, which was forwarded to The New York Times, includes a screenshot of Zelensky’s tweet and adds the message, “Ukraine Pres. Zelensky urges all senators to vote in favor of Nord Stream 2 sanctions.”
But the Biden administration has deployed its own forces to fight the law. Responding to a brief press conference request from two Democratic senators, the State Department sent officials to Capitol Hill on Monday to brief lawmakers and advise them to support the bill. The next day, the matter arose again when the senators met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in a closed-door meeting to discuss the delegation’s upcoming trip to Ukraine.
In an effort to prevent further defections, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, unveiled Wednesday a Democratic alternative to his bill. Cruz will impose sanctions on top Russian government officials, including Mr Putin, if Russia participates in or supports a “significant escalation in hostilities or actions”. hostilities in or against Ukraine.” It will also provide Ukraine with $500 million in additional emergency security assistance in the event of a Russian invasion.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/13/us/politics/senate-russia-gas-pipeline-ukraine.html New sanctions on Russian gas pipelines shortened in Senate