GOP Sen. Tom Cotton accuses Germany of abandoning Ukraine over gas pipeline with Russia

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., walks to a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Washington.

Sen. Tom Cotton accused Germany of not having Ukraine’s back against Russia. 
Cotton suggested Germany was prioritizing Nord Stream 2 instead. 
But Germany has signaled the pipeline could be halted if Russia invades Ukraine.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Wednesday ripped into Germany over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline amid the escalating Ukraine crisis, suggesting that Berlin doesn’t have Kyiv’s back. 

Cotton effectively accused Germany of prioritizing the pipeline over defending Ukraine. 

“Now it has to be said that many of our allies have been standing with Ukraine, but one ally in particular has not, and that’s the nation of Germany,” Cotton said during a press conference on Wednesday. “Germany continues to insist that Nord Stream should go forward. They refuse to be specific about the kinds of sanctions and penalties Vladimir Putin should face if he invades.”

Germany has faced significant criticism in Washington over Nord Stream 2, an undersea Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline. The pipeline bypasses Ukraine, meaning it would lose out on billions in gas transit fees.

Nord Stream 2 is completed but not yet operational, pending German certification. Opponents of the pipeline, which includes the Ukrainian government, contend that it would give Russia dangerous leverage over Europe. 

American lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pushed for sanctions against the pipeline as Russia has amassed a huge force along Ukraine’s border, prompting concerns of an invasion.

But the Biden administration has thrown cold water on the calls for Nord Stream 2 sanctions, as part of a broader effort to maintain strong ties with Berlin while presenting a unified front against Moscow. Along these lines, the Biden administration last May waived Congressional sanctions that had angered Germany on the company behind the pipeline.

The administration’s Democratic allies in Congress last week ensured that a bill to sanction the pipeline introduced by GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas failed. Democrats accused Cruz of attempting to undermine transatlantic relations to hurt President Joe Biden amid the Ukraine crisis. Cruz countered by contending the best way to deter Russia from invading was by targeting Nord Stream 2 now.

The administration has made the case that the pipeline offers Germany important leverage over Russia, while warning Moscow of severe economic consequences if it invades Ukraine. The US and Germany came to an agreement last July that Berlin will push for sanctions if Russia vies to “use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.”

Germany has also signaled that it would be open to scrapping or halting the pipeline in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

When asked about the pipeline following a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said it’s “clear that there will be a high price to pay and that everything will have to be discussed should there be a military intervention in Ukraine,” per Reuters.

Though Germany has joined other Western countries in threatening heavy consequences if Russia invades, it’s refused to follow the lead of other NATO members (including the US and UK) in terms of sending weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but maintains robust ties with the alliance and has sought to join for years. 

The Kremlin denies plans to invade Ukraine, but the White House on Tuesday warned that a Russian military incursion into the former Soviet republic could be imminent. Moscow has been supporting rebels in a war against Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbass region since 2014, the same year that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine. 

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Politics, International, News, Tom Cotton, Ukraine, Germany, Russia

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