What is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and how does it relate to the Ukraine crisis?

Absorber columns at the Gazprom PJSC Slavyanskaya compressor station, the starting point of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in Ust-Luga, Russia, on Jan. 28. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg News)
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President Biden on Wednesday announced sanctions against the company behind Nord Stream 2, the controversial pipeline project built to transport gas from Russia to Germany.

The sanctions target Nord Stream 2 AG, whose parent company is the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

“These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement. “Through his actions, President Putin has provided the world with an overwhelming incentive to move away from Russian gas and to other forms of energy.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that Berlin would halt certification of the pipeline, following reports that Russia had moved troops into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced early Thursday that he had ordered the start of a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

President Biden said earlier this month that the pipeline would not go ahead if the Kremlin sends its forces into Ukraine, vowing “we will bring an end to it.”

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has ignited geopolitical anxieties that have nearly ended the project a number of times. Opponents, including in the United States, Poland and Ukraine, have long expressed fears that it could give Russia too much leverage in Europe.

Germany will halt authorization of Nord Stream 2 pipeline