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View over the construction site of the pigging station of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2. picture alliance / Contributor/Getty Images

A major contractor on Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany is halting work to avoid sanctions that would be imposed under legislation that President Trump signed Friday night.

Why it matters: The move by the Switzerland-based Allseas to stop laying subsea pipeline sections in the Baltic Sea creates new hurdles for the controversial pipeline project.

Driving the news: Allseas announced the suspension Friday night, shortly before Trump signed sweeping defense policy legislation that includes sanctions against companies laying down the pipeline.

  • Via Reuters, the move "throws into doubt the completion date of the $11 billion project that Moscow had said would be ready in months, jeopardizing plans to quickly expand Russian sales of natural gas to Europe via pipeline."

But, but, but: A spokesman for Gazprom-backed Nord Stream 2, the company building the project, said it would proceed despite Allseas' move.

"Completing the project is essential for European supply security. We together with the companies supporting the project will work on finishing the pipeline as soon as possible."
— Nord Stream 2 spokesman Jens Mueller said via email

The big picture: U.S. officials in successive administrations have opposed the project, arguing it will weaken European energy security and bolster Russian leverage.

  • However, the Trump administration hasn't previously acted against Nord Stream 2 using its existing powers, and now the project is closing in on completion.
  • Per AP: German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the U.S. sanctions are "particularly incomprehensible" as Russia and Ukraine made a deal this week on the future transit of Russian gas through Ukraine. Ukraine is among other European nations to oppose Nord Stream 2 out of fear of being frozen out of gas transit.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Trump confidante Matt Schlapp interviews Jared Kushner last February. Schlapp is seeking a pardon for a biotech executive. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A flood of convicted criminals has retained lobbyists since November’s presidential election to press President Trump for pardons or commutations before he leaves office.

What we're hearing: Among them is Nickie Lum Davis, a Hawaii woman who pleaded guilty last year to abetting an illicit foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Trump confidante Matt Schlapp also is seeking a pardon for a former biopharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud less than two months ago.

GOP plots payback for deplatforming Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Capitol Hill conservatives are gaming out a multi-front war on the tech industry as retribution for deplatforming President Trump and others on the right, congressional sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: When you're in the minority, you figure out who you are as a party. With Republicans now looking up at the Democrats, they're searching for a unifying issue. This is one, at least for now.