Lobbying firms sever partnerships on Russian pipeline after raising millions

Lobbyists are distancing themselves from foreign companies that are partners in Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project after lobbying for them for a total of $17 million since 2017.

According to Politicsthree lobbying firms have severed their ties with partner companies on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The terminations end a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign as President Joe Biden announces sanctions against the company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and Germany suspends certification of the pipeline.

Foreign companies that are partners of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 have spent heavily lobbying for the pipeline project, which would deliver Russian natural gas to Germany while bypassing Ukraine. These companies collectively spent more than $6.6 million on lobbying in 2021 related to the pipeline and issues such as “natural gas as part of European energy security.”

The sanctions target Nord Stream 2 AG, which is 100% owned by Russian state energy company Gazprom, as part of the Biden administration’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizing the autonomy of breakaway regions in eastern Europe. Ukraine and the invasion of several Ukrainian cities. The sanctions also target the CEO of Nord Stream, a close ally of Putin.

While Nord Stream is owned by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, the Kremlin insisted the pipeline was a “commercial project” and that pipeline lobbyists were registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Law instead. of FARA, retaining details of government officials interviewed by lobbyists. away from the public. Lobbyists for foreign clients can choose to register under the LDA as long as the “primary beneficiary” is not a foreign government or political party.

Biden waived Nord Stream sanctions in 2021, and administration officials have reportedly urged senators to roll back the sanctions measures unless the White House has the power to lift congressional sanctions.

Nord Stream’s foreign corporate partners have spent more than $6.8 million lobbying against sanctions and other pipeline project issues since the start of 2020 alone.

Roberti Global has been the largest recipient of Nord Stream 2 lobbying expenditures with more than $9.1 million in payments since 2017. About $2.4 million of that went to 2021 lobbying under the administration of Biden. The lobbying firm is run by Democratic donor and lobbyist Vincent Roberti, who was an unofficial adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign in 2008.

Nord Stream has poured more money into lobbying every year, and pipeline partner companies have started to ramp up their lobbying efforts in 2020.

BGR Group, which also terminated its contract with Nord Stream, has received around $1.6 million since the start of 2020.

Five foreign companies that are Gazprom partners on the pipeline – Austria’s OMV AG, Dutch Shell International, France’s ENGIE and Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper SE – have paid McLarty Inbound lobbyists more than $1.6 million since the start of 2020.

The Democratic National Committee announced in May 2021 that Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and his joint fundraising committee had repaid contributions from McLarty’s managing partner, Richard Burt, the former US ambassador to Germany. . Refunds followed OpenSecrets reporting that he was a registered lobbyist at the time of his donations, and Biden had pledged to reject lobbyist donations.

As companies terminated lobbying contracts on the Nord Stream gas pipeline, Russian interests poured millions into other foreign influence operations also targeting the United States.

Foreign agents have netted about $182 million from Russian lobbying, foreign influence operations and propaganda in the United States since 2016, according to OpenSecretsanalysis of data from the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Foreign operatives working for Russian state media spent $34.8 million on propaganda targeting the United States in 2021 alone.