Do Biden’s ‘tough new sanctions’ give Putin Nord Stream 2?

An article by my Hoover colleague Dr. Paul Gregory in The Hill

Western media is greeting the Biden administration’s Russian sanctions as “signaling a tougher stance on Russia than under former President Donald Trump.” Vladimir Putin likely thinks otherwise.

It looks as if the Biden administration has blinked on Putin’s key foreign policy objective — the completion and operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, delivering Russian gas to Europe. The sanctioning of a few Kremlin officials is petty change compared to the decade-long profitable effects of Russian pipeline politics.

Indeed, the new U.S. sanctions do freeze foreign assets and impose travel restrictions on a number of Russian officials associated with the attempted poisoning and sham imprisonment of Putin opponent Aleksei Navalny. Yes, these are significant figures in the Kremlin hierarchy (the chief prosecutor and the head of internal security forces), but they are not the inner-circle kleptocrats that Navalny’s team wanted to see sanctioned.

Largely overlooked in media coverage is that the Russian ruble strengthened after the announced sanctions. Why? As the Russian news service TASS reported, notably missing from Biden’s actions were new sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline connecting Russia’s northern gas fields directly to Germany.

Read the full article here

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