Feb 23, 2022 - World

Cruz lifts hold on State Department nominees after Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Ted Cruz

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz arrives for a Senate Republican luncheon in Russell Building on Feb. 17, 2022. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has lifted his hold on President Biden's State Department nominees after the Biden administration sanctioned the Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

Why it matters: Cruz has campaigned to sanction the pipeline for months, calling it a chance to stop a Russian invasion into Ukraine. His bill failed to clear the Senate in January, per Reuters.

Between the lines, via Axios' Zachary Basu: Ukraine views the Putin-backed project as an existential threat to its security, as it would deprive the country of billions of dollars in gas-transit fees and allow Russia to deliver gas directly to the heart of Europe.

  • The U.S. has long held the position that Nord Stream 2 is a malign Kremlin geopolitical influence project that would increase Europe's reliance on Russian gas, but Biden allowed construction to proceed last year in order to repair relations with Germany.

The big picture: Germany announced Tuesday that it would halt the certification process for the pipeline in response to Russian troops moving into eastern Ukraine.

  • The Biden administration has imposed several sanctions on Russia targeting since Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would recognize two pro-Russian separatist "republics" in eastern Ukraine and ordered Russian "peacekeepers" into the region.
  • More sanctions are coming, the administration has said.

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