“The pipeline itself is the wedge,” said Mr McConnell. “That’s the whole point. That has been Putin’s goal: to decouple Ukraine from Europe and make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas.”
Mr Cruz’s legislation sparked fierce lobbying, particularly putting pressure on centrist Democrats, who have long been supporters of Ukraine. During a Christmas Eve video call with a bipartisan group of more than 20 lawmakers, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky cited Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to his country, arguing that the pipeline posed just as much of a risk to Ukraine as the Russian forces that is on its limit, according to four people briefed on the call, who described it on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on it.
Zelensky, they said, expressed frustration that the Biden administration had waived sanctions on the pipeline last year. Since then, Mr. Zelensky’s bill from Mr. Cruz on Twitter.
A lobbyist representing Ukraine’s oil and gas industry, including state-owned Naftogaz, reached out to Senate Democrat offices this week to ask for support for Cruz’s bill, according to a person familiar with the outreach.
Understand Russia’s relationship with the West
Tensions between regions are mounting and Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly willing to take geopolitical risks and assert his demands.
An email sent to the Senate offices by the lobbyist Monday, which was forwarded to DailyExpertNews, included a screenshot of Mr Zelensky’s tweet and added: “Ukraine Pres. Zelensky calls on all senators to vote for Nord Stream 2 sanctions.”
But the Biden administration deployed its own military forces against the legislation. In response to a request for a briefing by two Democratic senators, the State Department sent officials to Capitol Hill Monday to brief lawmakers and dissuade them from supporting the bill. The next day, the issue came up again when senators met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in a closed-door meeting to discuss an upcoming delegation trip to Ukraine.
In an effort to further prevent apostasy, New Jersey’s Senator Bob Menendez, the chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, unveiled on Wednesday a democratic alternative to Mr. Cruz’s bill that would impose sanctions on top Russian officials, including Mr. Putin. if Russia is involved in or supports “a significant escalation of hostilities or hostile actions in or against Ukraine.” It would also provide Ukraine with $500 million in additional security assistance in the event that Russia invades.