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A top European official is cautioning against the United States imposing sanctions on a natural-gas pipeline being built now between Russia and Germany.

Why it matters: President Trump and Europe have shared interests in exporting American natural gas across the Atlantic, but interests diverge over this pipeline. U.S. officials say the pipeline unnecessarily allows Russia to continue its dominance over European natural gas. Some European leaders have been more supportive of it.

“...even though we say that pipeline is a controversial one, we still think that partners like the U.S. the [European Union], we shouldn’t impose sanctions on individual cases — in this case European companies — because I believe we can always find ways to look for the common solution.”
— European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič

The context: Šefčovič made his comments during an interview with Axios last week in Washington.

Driving the news: Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters in Kiev on Tuesday that the U.S. is preparing to sanction companies working on Russia's long-proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Reuters reports. Perry said both chambers would pass a sanctions bill and Trump would sign it.

One level deeper: It wasn’t clear what bill Perry was referring to, but Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), introduced a bill last week imposing sanctions on vessels used to construct the deep-sea pipelines.

The other side: A spokesman for the pipeline project, Jens Mueller told S&P Global: "Our shareholder [Russia's Gazprom] and the five European financial investors are fully committed to the project, as are Nord Stream 2's suppliers.”

  • “The European investors are France's Engie, Austria's OMV, Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, and Shell,” per S&P.

Go deeper: Nord Stream 2 explained, via CNBC

Go deeper

Scoop: Biden weighs retired general Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star general Lloyd Austin as his nominee for Defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
1 hour ago - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.