On Friday, a heated exchange came after the press called out the spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, Ned Price for suggesting that President Biden was responsible for a policy that started under President Trump’s term.
At the press conference last Monday, Price seemed to suggest that the efforts made by the Biden administration have led to the development of Nord Stream 2. He highlighted a report that was sent to Congress stating that some 18 entities have engaged in “good faith efforts” to lessen their involvement in the controversial $11 billion pipeline project that was designed the transmit Russian natural gas to Germany.
Nord Stream 2 poses an early foreign-policy test for the Biden administration as it looks to take a hard line with Russia while rekindling the U.S. relationship with Europe, FP's @RobbieGramer and @ak_mack report.https://t.co/4zkr2DcFaK
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) February 23, 2021
In reference to the recent report, Price stated, “And I think that demonstrates that our strategy, including the legislative strategy, the strategy that, of course, Congress has been behind, has been working to good effect.” He continued, “We’ll continue to work closely with Germany, we’ll continue to work closely with our other allies and partners in Europe to uphold Europe’s own stated energy and security goals.”
However, Associated Press reported Matt Lee fired back at Price and asked, “Don’t you think it’s bit disingenuous to claim credit for the 18 companies winding down?” Lee continued, “All of this work was done in the previous administration, and you guys have only been … in office for a month. Right? Are you telling me that in the last four weeks, these 18 companies all of a sudden decide to say, ‘Oh my God! We better not do anything with Nord Stream 2.’”
Lee continued, “All of that, you guys are taking credit for stuff that the previous administration did! No?”
Price who noticeably appeared flustered said in defense that he was merely speaking on behalf of the State Department. The Biden administration recently added a layer of punishments to a Russian vessel and the shipowner due to their work in Nord Stream 2 – the controversial Russian gas pipeline to Europe.
New: Russia's adversaries in central and Eastern Europe are worried President Biden isn't willing to fight hard to stop the Russia-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 — one of Putin's core priorities… Until today they’d kept these concerns private. https://t.co/A2ndiLNN9x
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) February 23, 2021
Faced with a dilemma on what to do about Nord Stream 2, the Biden administration has essentially moved away from the issue and allowed the project to continue without leveling any new sanctions on the companies that were involved.
The heated exchange came after the Biden administration added a layer of sanctions on Friday to the Russian vessel and the shipowner due to their work on the pipeline project.
Meanwhile, senior Republican lawmakers scrutinized the move as inadequate, giving remarks that the administration has not penalized any other companies or individuals for the work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Republican lawmakers also said that the new penalties provided by the Biden administration were redundant as they merely copy existing penalties that the Trump administration had already imposed last January on the pipelaying ship Fortuna and its owner KVT-RUS.
The sanctions reported by Price were announced in a report that was submitted by the State Department to Congress late Friday night. However, the congressionally mandated report did not cite other Russian flagged vessels that have been cited in the past media reports, as working on Nord Stream 2. Nor does it single out any German or other European firms that were previously involved in the construction of the pipeline.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 23, 2021
The response of the Biden administration to this $11 billion project, represents an early test for the new administration as it tries to balance mending ties with Berlin and as well as standing up to Russia’s geopolitical power plays in Europe.