Republican Senator Ted Cruz blocks Senate vote on State Department nominees to pressure the Biden administration over Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, four people with knowledge of the situation told NBC News.
Thirteen nominees approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are in indefinite limbo as Cruz delays full Senate confirmation in an effort to get the administration to reverse its waiver of sanctions on the company overseeing the pipeline's construction. In most cases, the nominees would fill roles unrelated to U.S. policy toward the pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.
Among those being blocked are Brett Holmgren, awaiting confirmation as assistant secretary of State for intelligence, and Daniel Kritenbrink, tapped for assistant secretary overseeing East Asia and Pacific affairs. Two undersecretaries — some of the most senior roles in the department — are also being held up, including one that oversees human rights and democracy.
On June 4, President of Russia Vladimir Putin stated that the laying of the first line of the Nord Stream 2 was finished.
Meanwhile, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert stated that it is extremely important for Berlin to maintain Ukraine's status as a gas transit country even after Nord Stream 2 is put into operation.
Earlier, Dmytro Kuleba stated that Ukraine is ready to negotiate compensation for the loss of cash proceeds from gas transit after the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken assured that Washington together with Berlin are working to prevent Russia from using the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a coercive tool against Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.