That’s according to the investigation by OpenSecrets, the organization monitoring the financing of election campaigns, as well as cases related to lobbying, Ukrinform reports.
It is noted that since the beginning of 2020, foreign companies involved in the pipeline's construction have spent more than $7.4 million on lobbying against sanctions and other issues related to the project.
Nord Stream 2 has paid more than $4.5 million to Roberti Global, a lobbying firm run by Democratic donor and lobbyist Vincent Roberti. Roberti disclosed lobbying on “issues related to the U.S. position toward the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including potential financial sanctions affecting the project.”
Since the start of 2020, the pipeline company has paid about $1.3 million to BGR Group for lobbying by Walker Roberts, a former Republican staffer for foreign affairs congressional committees. Five foreign companies partnering with Gazprom on the pipeline – Austria’s OMV AG, the Netherlands’ Shell International, France’s ENGIE, and Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper SE – hired people to lobby the State Department and the National Security Council. They collectively paid more than $840,000 for lobbying in 2020 and $600,000 in the first three quarters of 2021.
Even though Nord Stream is owned by a Russian state-run firm, the Kremlin has insisted the pipeline is a “commercial project,” and proponents of the pipeline are registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act instead of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, keeping details of which government officials the lobbyists met with hidden from the public. Lobbyists for private foreign entities are allowed not to disclose information as long as the “principal beneficiary” of the influence operation is not a foreign government or political party.
Nord Stream 2 AG took center stage in the Senate negotiations after a vote to end debate on the NDAA funding bill failed on Monday.
Senate Republicans voted to block the defense funding bill from advancing on Monday, arguing that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wasn’t giving them the chance to get votes on amendments, including a measure levying sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
In May, President Joe Biden waived sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, despite bipartisan support for the sanctions in 2020. At the time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the decision was made to “rebuild relationships with our allies and partners in Europe.”
This week, Blinken and other Biden administration officials reportedly made calls urging senators to quash Nord Stream 2 sanction measures unless the White House has the power to waive the congressionally-mandated sanctions.
As of Thursday morning, the Senate had not voted on any amendments to the NDAA, including the Nord Stream 2 sanctions..
The House included an amendment providing sanctions on Nord Stream 2 with no White House waiver option in its version of the defense funding bill, which passed with bipartisan support. The bill is yet to be approved by Senate and signed by President.
As reported earlier, in November 2021, the German network regulator suspended the Nord Stream 2 AG operator certification process. The company in question is incorporated in Switzerland and belongs to Gazprom. At the moment, the company is working to set up a German branch as provided for by German legislation.
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