A group of Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would sanction entities involved with the construction of Nord Stream 2 as Washington seeks to force its European allies to reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
If passed, the ESCAPE bill would likely delay the completion of Nord Stream 2, an 11 billion USD (€9.75 million) undersea natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany being built by Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, according to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.
The bill would authorize U.S. sanctions on individuals offering investment, goods or services to Russia to facilitate the development of energy export projects, according to a copy of the document submitted Thursday by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
As natural gas delivered by Gazprom accounted for more than one-third of Europe's gas consumption last year, critics are concerned the pipeline will further increase Europe's dependence on Russian energy, while also allowing Russia to cut gas shipments through Ukraine, the transit fees of which make up a significant source of income for the Ukrainian government.
"The ESCAPE Act will take away [Russian President Vladimir Putin's] geopolitical weapon by sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and expanding American natural gas exports," said Barrasso, who did not deny that one of the aims of the bill was to sell more U.S. natural gas to Europe. "It only makes sense that we would use [U.S.] resources to help our allies and loosen Putin's economic and political grip on the region."
Editor: Aili Vahtla