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Senate rejects Cruz’s bill to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream pipeline

Needing 60 votes to pass, he failed 55-44. A handful of Democrats running for re-election voted with Republicans, including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Democratic Meaning. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin and Jacky Rosen from Nevada also walked across the aisle.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to oppose the bill.

The Biden administration had argued that the sanctions would undermine US efforts to deter the threat from Russia. A number of Democrats had questioned whether they should break with the White House and back the Cruz measure, hesitant to appear soft on Russia amid mounting tensions with Ukraine and keen to send a strong message to the president Russian Vladimir Putin, including on the pipeline from Russia to Germany.

The vote came after Democrats reached a compromise last month with Cruz, who agreed to lift his grip on several State Department candidates in the Biden administration if he got a vote on his sanctions measure.

Ahead of the vote, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez spoke to urge members to vote no and lobbied for his own bill that would impose sanctions only if Putin decided to invade Ukraine .

“This legislation makes it clear that the US Senate will not stand idly by as the Kremlin threatens a reinvasion of Ukraine,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We come together to send a clear message: Putin does not need to collapse his entire economy or sacrifice the lives of his own people in a futile attempt to rewrite the map of Europe. Ultimately, the most effective sanction against Russia is a strong and united Ukraine, and I look forward to working with my fellow Democrats and Republicans so that we can provide the Ukrainian people with the kind of support they need to confront the bully in Moscow. “

Menendez had been leading the charge against Bill Cruz all week. “Putin wants to see Nord Stream 2. If somehow he is killed before a possible invasion, he has one less reason not to invade Ukraine,” Menendez said on Tuesday. “But if we have the mother of all the sanctions imposed on him personally and against Russia, which my legislation will do, then at the end of the day it is a real deterrent, and a calculation that Putin must take into account. regarding the invasion of Ukraine. “

Cruz thinks that the new 750-mile gas pipeline, which is not yet operational, would empower Putin and allow him to hold dangerous leverage over Europe by controlling the flow of natural gas he so badly needs. The Ukrainian government had come out in favor of his plan.

Cruz argued that if the sanctions weren’t enforced, it would be existential for Ukraine. “And in days, weeks or months, if we turn on the television and see Russian tanks in the streets of Kiev, the reason will be that the US Senate has heard the calls of our Ukrainian allies and we have turned a deaf ear. Hear them. I pray we don’t. The eyes of history are on us and this body, Republicans and Democrats, to rise to the occasion. “

The Biden administration finalized on Wednesday sanctions options should Russia invade Ukraine, senior administration officials said, as talks were underway in Europe between US, Russian and NATO officials. aimed at avoiding a war.

The Biden administration has sanctions targets and implementation measures “ready to be issued when these tanks cross the border,” a senior administration official said. “The final package will depend on exactly the scenario we are facing… but we are no longer at the point where we only have a memo that presents options. We have concrete actions that we are ready to build on. return key. ”

Another senior administration official said: “We are ready for every scenario and the options are very well developed.”

As CNN previously reported, the White House has been analyzing in recent weeks the impacts that various sanctions options would have not only on Russia, but also on the European and American economies. Administration officials said on Wednesday that the United States and its allies have determined that while tough economic sanctions are likely to have global economic ramifications, any spillovers can be managed.

“The European financial system and its economy as a whole are in much better health than in 2014, especially in the banking sector,” said one of the officials. The official also stressed that it was not a question of weighing the costs of imposing sanctions against the “peaceful status quo” scenario – rather, the options were weighed against the possibility that the Russia takes aggressive measures that cause significant destabilization in the heart of Europe.

The United States is also aware of the risk that Putin will try to counter any economic sanctions by arming the export of Russian gas to Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies. One of the officials said that if Putin took this route, it “would strengthen Europe’s resolve to source elsewhere.”

CNN’s Manu Raju and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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