Joni Ernst says Senate can lift Biden on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline as Putin’s meeting looms

President Joe Biden could grapple with a mutiny among Senate Democrats over Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as he prepares to meet with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa indicated in a Fox News Sunday interview that a move to overturn Biden’s decision to allow the controversial Russia-Germany pipeline could gain the support of her colleagues on both sides of the aisle. .

Michèle Flournoy, a former Defense Ministry official who appeared alongside her, said the president is still looking for ways to punish Putin for Russia’s lightning-quick build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border — and sanctions on energy and the economy are off the table. table.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was completed in September, will strengthen Russia’s influence on the rest of Europe. Russia is Europe’s largest source of natural gas, accounting for 35 percent of the continent’s consumption.

Putin’s influence in the region will grow amid Russia’s increasingly hostile stance toward Ukraine due to its growing proximity to countries in the European Union and NATO. The pipeline would allow Germany to bypass an existing natural gas route through Ukraine, weakening the former Soviet state’s economy and its position vis-a-vis Russia.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst and former Obama-era Pentagon official Michèle Flournoy discussed Biden’s upcoming meeting with Putin with Fox host Chris Wallace

US officials under Presidents Obama and Trump opposed the pipeline, but in July Biden formally suspended sanctions on it — though Ernst said Sunday the Senate may have the votes to put them back.

“What are the odds that Congress can override the president and block the pipeline, and you can get Democrats and Republicans to work together to overthrow President Biden?” asked host Chris Wallace.

The Republican in Iowa said she could not speak on behalf of the House of Representatives, but “I do believe there is a conflation around this kind of action in the United States Senate.”

“Democrats are concerned, Republicans are concerned, and what we don’t want is to allow President Putin to continue with the pipeline, especially as he prepares to perhaps invade Ukraine,” Ernst said.

The measure is included in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, although officials in the Biden administration have pressured Democrats to reverse it, arguing it would alienate Germany from the US.

The Pentagon’s annual budget was approved by the House earlier this year and is currently working through the Senate.

Flournoy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy under former President Barack Obama, said she did not believe sanctions against Nord Stream 2 were necessary.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed in September after Biden lifted US sanctions against it in July

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed in September after Biden lifted US sanctions against it in July

Biden to meet Putin on Tuesday

The world community is concerned about Russia's military build-up on the border with Ukraine

Biden and Putin speak on Tuesday amid international concerns over Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border

“To implement very strict sanctions, we have to work with our European partners, and that also applies to Germany. I would urge the Senate to think about that,” she said.

“Taking satisfaction from blocking Nord Stream 2 could undermine the effectiveness of the sanctions the president hopes to impose against Putin.”

The international effort would deliver “an escalating series of sanctions beyond what has been done before,” she said.

“I’m sure they’re looking at sanctions for the banking system, sanctions for the energy sector.”

Biden said Friday that the US had developed the “most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make things very, very difficult for Mr. Putin.”

The US and its European allies have made no public mention of plans to respond militarily themselves if Putin sends troops to Ukraine en masse along the border.

Instead, Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised financial pain this week – ‘high impact economic measures that we have not taken in the past’.

The United States has already imposed a series of sanctions against Russian entities and individuals in the past decade, many of them for Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and its support of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. US sanctions have also been sought. Punish Russia for election meddling, malicious cyber activities and human rights violations.

Ukrainian troops prepare to repel any offensive, with government appealing to the international community for help fighting a Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory (soldiers of the Ukrainian air strike forces attend military exercises in the Zhytomyr region , Ukraine, November 21, 2021)

Ukrainian troops prepare to repel any offensive, with government appealing to the international community for help fighting a Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory (soldiers of the Ukrainian air strike forces attend military exercises in the Zhytomyr region , Ukraine, November 21, 2021)

Tens of thousands of Russian troops have gathered near the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, raising fears of an imminent invasion.  (Pictured: Marines of the Baltic Fleet troops of the Russian Navy train in the zone of obstacles during military exercises at the Khmelevka hearth in the Kaliningrad region, Russia November 24, 2021)

Tens of thousands of Russian troops have gathered near the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, raising fears of an imminent invasion. (Pictured: Marines of the Baltic Fleet troops of the Russian Navy train in the zone of obstacles during military exercises at the Khmelevka hearth in the Kaliningrad region, Russia November 24, 2021)

A militant from the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk walks to combat positions on the dividing line of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the outskirts of Kirovsk in Ukraine's Luhansk region on December 1, 2021.

A militant from the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Luhansk walks to combat positions on the dividing line of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the outskirts of Kirovsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region on December 1, 2021.

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