Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz will stop blocking President Joe Biden’s State Department nominees now that the administration is implementing sanctions against a company that built a Russian gas pipeline meant to supply Germany with natural gas.
Still, Texas’ junior senator wants the administration and Congress to issue permanent sanctions on the pipeline as Russian President Vladimir Putin mobilizes forces along the Ukraine border. For months, Cruz single-handedly delayed dozens of key State Department nominees to retaliate against a previous Biden decision to drop opposition to the pipeline.
The Nord Stream 2 runs underneath the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany. Cruz and other lawmakers have opposed the pipeline for years and passed sanctions intended to block it.
“Putin believes that Nord Stream 2's activation is a fait accompli now that it has been physically completed, and that any barriers or sanctions are only temporary,” Cruz said. “His aggression toward Ukraine is based on that assessment, and the only way to change his decision calculus is to convince him Nord Stream 2 will never come online.”
Biden last year agreed to drop opposition to the pipeline, which was nearly complete, as a means to improve the relationship between the U.S. and Germany. But as Putin appears to be gearing up for a deeper push into the Ukraine, Cruz and Biden appear to be on the same page.
“Today, I have directed my administration to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers,” Biden said in a statement. “These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.”
Biden’s sanctions come after German leaders announced the country would block usage of the pipeline as punishment for a Russian invasion into Ukraine that the Western world is expecting.
“Today’s announcement should be followed by additional steps inside the Biden administration and in Congress to permanently lock in sanctions,” Cruz said.
Last spring, the Biden administration lifted sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO Matthias Warnig, a Putin ally. The Biden move was widely perceived as an accommodation to Germany, one of the United States’ closest European allies.
Cruz vigorously opposed that action, going so far as to put the matter to a Senate vote earlier this year.
In his statement, Cruz went on to call for more “to be done to deter and counter the threat that Putin poses to our allies in Ukraine and across Europe.”
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement concurring with Cruz.
“Today’s announcement, while long overdue, reflects years of bipartisan efforts and is a step in the right direction,” McCaul said.