May 20, 2021

UCCA urges continued U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2 pipeline


The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America issued the following statement on May 19.

Following the 2020 U.S. elections, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the nation’s largest representative body of Americans of Ukrainian descent, issued a statement expressing to newly elected officials that Ukrainian Americans are united in their belief that a democratic and independent Ukraine is in the national security interests of the United States. Included in that statement was the bipartisan sentiment that any “retreat from current sanctions against the Russian Federation and its proxies, or from continued military, political and economic support of Ukraine by the United States, would entail terrifying consequences for Ukraine, our European partners and the global geo-political security structure.”

UCCA was therefore heartened to hear U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at his Senate confirmation hearing in January speak unequivocally about stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“I’m determined to do whatever I can to prevent that completion,” Mr. Blinken said, adding that U.S. President Joe Biden “would have us use every persuasive tool that we have to convince our friends and partners including Germany not to move forward with it [the Nord Stream 2 pipeline].”

While every new administration looks to take a fresh approach to foreign policy, UCCA took Mr. Biden at his word when he described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a “fundamentally bad deal for Europe,” specifically because, in his words, it would “lock in great reliance on Russia [which] will fundamentally destabilize Ukraine.”

Therefore, when it was reported on May 18 that the State Department, in listing to Congress which entities involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 deserve to face sanctions, would instead “cite U.S. national interests,” and waive the application of sanctions against the company behind the project – Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO Matthias Warnig – we must ask of this administration: Why is the United States not doing all it can to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from accomplishing one of his biggest priorities?

Nord Stream 2 is a geopolitical scheme designed to provide Mr. Putin’s Russia with additional malign influence on the U.S.’s European allies and partners. Instead of standing by Ukraine, these proposed waivers contradict in letter and spirit the intent behind the bipartisan sanctions regime passed by Congress: preventing the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

In light of Defense Department officials reporting this month that close to 80,000 Russian troops remain on the border with Ukraine (the biggest force Russia has amassed there since 2014), Mr. Biden should maintain the commitments made to the U.S.’s allies in Eastern Europe, and continue America’s bipartisan record of support for Ukraine.

Instead of issuing waivers, the United States should be strengthening sanctions and ratcheting up the pressure on Russia to leave Ukrainian territory.

As a strategic partner of Ukraine, the United States should further demonstrate leadership among allies by supporting a Membership Action Plan for Ukraine at this summer’s NATO Summit. Following 13 years of bureaucratic stalling in Brussels, the time has come for the United States to clarify if it still upholds its commitments made in Bucharest in 2008, when NATO made clear that Ukraine would become a signatory member of the transatlantic alliance one day.