“The pipeline itself is the wedge,” Mr. McConnell mentioned. “That’s the entire level. That’s been Putin’s objective: decoupling Ukraine from Europe and making Europe much more reliant on Russian fuel.”
Mr. Cruz’s laws set off a fierce spherical of lobbying, squeezing specifically centrist Democrats who’ve lengthy been supporters of Ukraine. On a Christmas Eve video name with a bipartisan group of greater than 20 lawmakers, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine solid Nord Stream 2 as an existential menace to his nation, arguing that the pipeline posed as a lot threat to Ukraine because the Russian troops amassing on its border, in keeping with 4 folks briefed on the decision, who described it on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to touch upon it.
Mr. Zelensky, they mentioned, expressed frustration that the Biden administration had waived sanctions on the pipeline final yr. Since then, Mr. Zelensky has promoted Mr. Cruz’s invoice on Twitter.
A lobbyist who represents the Ukrainian oil and fuel business, together with the state-owned firm Naftogaz, reached out this week to the workplaces of Senate Democrats to induce help for Mr. Cruz’s invoice, in keeping with an individual acquainted with the outreach.
Perceive Russia’s Relationship With the West
The stress between the areas is rising and Russian President Vladimir Putin is more and more prepared to take geopolitical dangers and assert his calls for.
An e-mail despatched on Monday to Senate workplaces by the lobbyist, which was forwarded to The New York Instances, included a screenshot of Mr. Zelensky’s tweet, and added the message, “Ukraine Pres. Zelensky calls on all senators to vote in favor of Nord Stream 2 sanctions.”
However the Biden administration marshaled its personal forces towards the laws. Responding to a request for a briefing by two Democratic senators, the State Division despatched officers to Capitol Hill on Monday to transient lawmakers and dissuade them from supporting the invoice. The subsequent day, the problem got here up once more as senators met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in a closed-door assembly to debate an upcoming delegation journey to Ukraine.
In an effort to additional head off defections, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the chairman of the International Relations Committee, unveiled on Wednesday a Democratic various to Mr. Cruz’s invoice that will impose sanctions on prime Russian authorities officers, together with Mr. Putin, if Russia engages in or helps “a big escalation in hostilities or hostile motion in or towards Ukraine.” It might additionally present Ukraine with $500 million in supplemental emergency safety help within the occasion that Russia invades.