President Joe Biden’s decision to bless the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a partnership between Russia and our European allies, is alarming and dangerous for America. It does not make any sense. There is no scenario where the U.S. gains any tangible benefit from Biden’s decision.
So why would he allow the project to proceed, lift sanctions on the Russian executives close to Vladimir Putin running it, and lie to Congress about his position on it? The move is distressing and represents another instance of Biden’s frail foreign policy. It is reckless and even more so consequential to America’s perception as a strong global leader.
The only hint we have for Biden’s action thus far? He wants to maintain good relations with Germany. In doing so, he has signaled that he is willing to turn his back on American interests. By succumbing to Russia, he is neglecting other countries in the region that the U.S. has professed to protect.
Previous U.S. presidential administrations, Republican and Democrat, have opposed the pipeline project. The Trump Administration even applied targeted sanctions against Nord Stream 2 in 2019 and expanded them in 2021. The Europeans and Russians condemned Trump’s actions but he saw the perilous path for the U.S. then and in years to come if the project was completed.
Biden’s responses leading up to his decision to sign-off on the project are all together disturbing. On his first day in office he cancelled the Keystone pipeline virtually destroying America’s ability to become energy independent.
More recently, a Russian based cyberterrorism group using the name DarkSide, attacked and decimated Colonial Pipeline. The ransomware attack on the company’s pipe system exposed the vulnerability of our national strategic assets, and in this specific case, created panic along our eastern seaboard, depleted gas supplies, and spiked prices to consumers.
While Biden has alluded to an FBI report suggesting neither Putin nor the Russian government were involved, he stated that Russia bears “some responsibility” for DarkSide’s cyberattack. His feeble response to this debilitating attack now only emboldens Russia and others to continue to dismantle the security in our country.
Why then is Biden handing Putin a major victory in the Nord Stream project, particularly at a time when Russia has repeatedly provoked the U.S. and exposed Biden’s incompetence as a weak leader and poor decision maker?
Honestly, no body seems to have a clue, and it’s unclear Biden does either.
Having spent ten years working in eastern European political affairs I saw the geopolitical impact of the first Nord Stream project when it was inaugurated in 2011 and the launch of part two which remains incomplete for the moment.
A completed pipeline would give expanded influence to Russia in Europe, change the flow of energy resources through Europe, and create substantial vulnerabilities in neighboring countries specifically Ukraine.
The genesis of Nord Stream resulted from constant squabbling between Russia and Ukraine over political and trade issues. Russia would typically increase gas prices beyond Ukraine’s capacity to pay. Natural gas must travel from Russia through Ukraine in order to reach European countries. Every time Russia bullied Ukraine, Germany, France and others were held hostage to these tedious disputes and frequently cut off from a needed energy source.
Germany, in particular, determined that it could not rely on Ukraine as an intermediary for its energy needs. An initially covert deal was brokered directly between Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Putin to create a pipeline that would supply gas directly from Russia to Germany and other European partners. Merkel was acutely aware that the new pipeline would crush Ukraine’s economy at an impact of more than $5 billion in revenue per year.
Now, Biden’s decision to accept it has brought the Nord Stream project back onto the global center stage along with all of its ramifications.
Russia wins overwhelmingly. The increased natural gas exports will rake in billions of dollars for the nation. It will gain wider influence over political and policy issues in the region. Russia’s stronger bonds with Europe’s dominant countries will over time push out U.S. influence.
Not to mention, Biden has personally and publicly vowed to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression but his decision will decimate its economy and push the country closer to Putin’s grasp.
Many Ukrainian’s still remember the deep betrayal when Biden (and Obama) allowed Putin to invade Ukraine in 2014 with virtually no consequence. As a fragile democracy Ukraine clings to the hope of support and commitment form the U.S.
Seven years later, Biden’s Nord Stream decision will create an even greater sense of distrust among Ukrainians. The country has been nothing but a political pawn to U.S. democratic administrations for years. Biden has certainly failed Ukraine again. More problematic he has damaged the credibility of the U.S. and handed one of our most pronounced adversaries immense political and economic power.
Rick Gates has worked on U.S. and international political campaigns over a span of 25 years. He is a frequent political commentator and opinion contributor. Rick is the author of "Wicked Game: An Insider's Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed and America Lost." Read Rick Gates' Reports — More Here
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