WASHINGTON – The Congressional Ukraine Caucus (CUC) Co-Chairs Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), in addition to caucus member Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), on June 8 sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing concern regarding Russia’s efforts to circumvent Congressional sanctions on Nord Stream 2, and urging Mr. Pompeo to urgently apply sanctions on Russian entities STIF and MRTS and any other firms should they engage in pipelaying or provide technical support, as mandated under section 7503 of the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (National Defense Authorization Act of 2020; PL. 116-92; 22 U.S.C. 9526 note).
A copy of the letter was also sent to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
“Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. longstanding interests in European energy security and opposition to Nord Stream 2 remains firm, and we remain vigilant in our efforts to protect Ukrainian sovereignty and European allies and partners from malign Russian influence,” the CUC members wrote. “As you know, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin seeks to sow discord in the trans-Atlantic alliance through hybrid warfare operations. This includes weaponizing energy to weaken democratic institutions and solidarity through the export of strategic corruption.”
The letter continued:
“Russian authorities seek to complete Nord Stream 2 as a political and economic weapon to cut off critical gas transit through Ukraine, a nation fighting for its survival against Russian aggression and occupation of its regions, as well as to increase its leverage over Europe. That is why several eastern European, Nordic, and Baltic countries have joined the United States in expressing their concerns with the project.
“Thankfully, the U.S. Congress on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis established the means to apply targeted sanctions on pipelaying companies to halt the pipeline and protect Ukraine’s security… Unfortunately, it appears that Russian authorities believe Western officials are distracted by COVID-19 and currently seek to circumvent these sanctions and finish the pipeline through the use of two Russian pipelaying vessels: the Akademik Cherskiy owned by STIF (previously Gazflot) and the Fortuna owned by Russian-owned MRTS.”
The CUC members concluded, “For these reasons, we respectfully urge you, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to apply NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] sanctions on STIF and MRTS and any other firm should they engage in pipelaying or provide technical support, to protect Ukraine and our European allies and partners from this tool in the Kremlin’s broader tool-kit of malign influence. Additionally, we must also continue to provide Europe with alternative energy source options. We urge you to continue diplomatic efforts to support European energy diversification efforts through the Three Seas Initiative, and to promote member nation and private investments to move forward with joint financing of infrastructure projects.”