Protecting Europe's Energy Security Clarification Act of 2020

US energy-related sanctions have been reduced to ineffective instruments of change while concurrently blocking the Russia-US bilateral relationship from full normalization.

The Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act of 2020 (S. 3897) – introduced on 06/04/2020 - expands existing sanctions on foreign individuals and entities that engage in activities relating to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream energy pipelines. Expanding on current law, it now includes further specified activities, destabilizing the transatlantic relationship with the EU. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) and co-sponsored by Sens. Shaheen (D-NH), Barrasso (R-WY), Cotton (R-AR), and Johnson (R-WI).


KEY PROVISIONS

  • Expands and amends current law – subsection (a)(1) of section 7503 of the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (title LXXV of Public Law 116–92).

- This includes sanctions on foreign entities and individuals by imposing visa- and property-blocking sanctions that knowingly took actions such as selling or leasing vessels that engaged in pipe-laying related to the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines.

  • · Imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities that engage in the following specified activities:

(1) Providing underwriting services or insurance for such vessels;

(2) Installing welding equipment for such vessels;

(3) Providing testing or inspection services for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

  • · Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, the bill last saw action on 06/04/2020 and has been read twice.

IMPLICATIONS


Since the introduction of the multi-faceted, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in 2017, US efforts to thwart the Nord Stream II pipeline have resulted in adverse implications for US interests, key strategic allies, and the Russia-US bilateral relationship. The Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act of 2020 is the next installment of further specified actions leaving the United States in a worse geopolitical standing, and it continues to follow a failed overarching policy of sanctions with an efficacy rate of 4%. Considering that the targeted project(s) will inevitably be completed as early as Q1 of 2021, this next escalation is deemed futile by Ru-PAC and will have wide-ranging effects in relation to the above:


The interests of the United States are transparent; LNG aspirations on the European continent should not be pursued through coercion and interference in Russo-European affairs. As demonstrated by the past sanctioning history in relation to Nord Stream II, these latest efforts will continue to sow discord among European allies and stakeholder groups, doing so by expanding those specified activities as outlined in the bill summary; by targeting stakeholders involved in insurance, vessels and peripheral activities surrounding the project, this will inevitably affect the intertwined economic and political community of the European Union and has been reiterated as a negative development by European leaders on multiple occasions.


The sanctions are, therefore, fundamentally detrimental to the built-up perceptions of trust by European allies vis-à-vis the United States, and as such, the bill does not merit the shattering of historical transatlantic ties. Lastly, the strained Russia-US relationship continues to be affected by bipartisan legislation to the detriment of both sides.


For a full commentary of these effects and the history of sanctioning efforts, see Ru-PAC’s detailed examination and timeline of related bills. This policy brief was compiled by the Russian Public Affairs Committee (Ru-PAC) in November 2020.