Washington expands aid for Ukraine, sanctions Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream

The US House of Representatives and the Armed Services Committee of the US Senate have announced a deal on the US National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) for 2020, expanding security aid for Ukraine and targeting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines.

The proposal for 2020 “renews and extends the authorisation of 300 million US dollars of funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, to include lethal defensive items as well as new authorities.”

The draft legislation also includes measures to protect European energy security “by imposing sanctions related to Russian energy pipelines Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.”

The compromise between US lawmakers comes after increasing congressional pressure on US President Donald Trump to support Ukraine’s defence capabilities and target Russia’s gas pipelines.

Speaking to reporters on December 4, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood said that Mr Trump would seek at least another 250 million US dollars of aid, including Javelin anti-tank weapons.

The NDAA for 2020 also includes a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by two key US lawmakers, Republican senator Ted Cruz and Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen, that targets the companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2.

The sanctions, would deny visas and block transactions or individuals regarding their US-based properties and interests, and sanction executives of companies that participate in laying the pipelines.

The Gazprom-dominated Nord Stream 2 pipeline is being built by a consortium of leading Western energy companies, including Shell, Engie, Wintershall and OMV.

Once completed, the pipeline will deliver an annual 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Europe, bypassing Ukraine, and therefore endangering its role as a key gas transit country for Europe.

Ukraine and Russia are yet to agree on a gas transit through Ukrainian pipelines from 2020 since their current agreement expires by the end of the year.