US sanctions on Russian pipeline would block aggressive Putin: Ted Cruz

Project would leave Europe more susceptible to Russian blackmail, lawmaker says

The Trump administration should use sanctions to halt the construction of a pipeline that would allow Russia to transport natural gas directly to Europe, potentially generating cash to fuel President Vladimir Putin's military aggression, says Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

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The Nord Stream 2 pipeline “would make Europe even more dependent on Russian energy," Cruz told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday.  "And that makes Europe susceptible to economic blackmail, because Putin has already demonstrated he's perfectly willing to cut off the gas in the dead of winter to try to force people to do what he wants.”

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The Senate recently passed a bipartisan bill backed by Cruz, which President Trump is expected to sign, that imposes sanctions on the $11 billion underwater project. Nord Stream 2, run by state-owned Gazprom, would allow Russia to bypass Poland and Ukraine and transport gas under the Baltic Sea.

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Stopping the pipeline would help both Europe and Ukraine, Cruz said. The U.S. benefits, he said, because European needs would then be "satisfied by American natural gas that creates jobs here in America, rather than fueling Putin's military ambition,” Cruz said.

One major contractor that might be hit with sanctions is Swiss company Allseas, which has been hired to build the pipeline.

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Cruz is sending the company a letter warning that if sanctions are approved, executives can either “cease construction” or risk crushing penalties that might drive the firm out of business.

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