A week after Russian hackers took down the Colonial Pipeline, causing gas shortages and price spikes for residents on the East Coast, President Joe Biden decided to hand Russian President Vladimir Putin a gift — the easing of sanctions on the pipeline it’s building to Germany.
Other than the Obama administration standing down to Russia’s invasion of Crimea, President Biden’s decision to ease sanctions easily goes down as one of the most pro-Russian moves by a sitting president in modern history. It strengthens Russia’s ability to use energy as a way to dominate Europe’s geopolitical landscape, putting our allies in the region at risk.
According to a report by Axios, Mr. Biden’s State Department “will imminently send its mandatory report to Congress listing entities involved in Nord Stream 2 that deserve sanctions,” which will include a “handful of Russian ships.” It will, however, waive sanctions on the entity in charge of the project and its CEO, “a Putin crony and former East German intelligence officer Matthias Warning,” Axios reported.
If accurate, this is a huge win for Mr. Putin. Without the pipeline, Russia has to go through Ukraine to supply gas to Europe. A direct pipeline to Germany will give Russia the ability to bypass Ukraine altogether and allow it to further isolate the country. Russia is also known for cutting off gas supplies to countries to gain a geopolitical edge in disputes. The new pipeline will give them additional leverage in Europe.
Reportedly, the easing of sanctions by the U.S. is to curry favor with Germany, who wants the project completed by the summer. This makes no sense — and puts America and our allies last.
For starters, the construction of the pipeline jeopardizes our NATO allies. As Defense News reported last year: “If built, Nord Stream 2 will pose an intelligence threat to the West. There exists the risk that the infrastructure used to lay the Russian pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea may allow the Kremlin to deploy surveillance devices.”
The Baltic Sea is also regularly used by NATO for exercise purposes and is widely traveled. There are concerns “Russia may one day deploy its naval forces along the pipelines’ routes on a national security pretext, leaving much of the Baltic Sea unnavigable, including for LNG carriers, cargo ships, the navies of the countries surrounding this body of water and NATO maritime forces. In such a scenario, the potential for escalation is clear,” Defense News reported.
Secondly, it puts German interests above American interests. To summarize, the U.S. funds NATO, with Germany consistently not contributing its fair share, taking a free ride.
The U.S. has also stationed troops in Germany to help defend it against Russian aggression, without so much as a thank you. Instead, the Germans buy Russian gas, thwarting American supplies. Why is the Biden administration so intent on pleasing Germany and abating Russia, while putting American interests last?
President Biden’s rhetoric on Russia is tough, but his actions are weak. Waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 provides another win for Russia, at the cost of our national security.
At some point, one has to question what Russia has on Mr. Biden.
Last year, an 87-page report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in conjunction with the Treasury Department detailed how Russian billionaire Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow sent a $3.5 million wire transfer to President Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s company on Valentine’s Day in 2014. It gave no details on what the payment was for.
Additionally last year, Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, detailed how he met with Joe Biden, his brother Jim and son Hunter regarding lucrative overseas financial deals.
Mr. Bobulinski provided a tape recording, texts, emails and business records as evidence the Biden family used President Biden’s stature and power to enrich themselves. He claimed the president knew all about his son’s foreign money-making schemes and concluded “Joe Biden and the Biden family are compromised.”
Perhaps our enterprising press, who spent four years pontificating about how former President Donald J. Trump was a Russian asset, could further look into these allegations. Because one thing is certain: President Biden is giving more gifts to Mr. Putin than President Trump ever did.
• Kelly Sadler is commentary editor at The Washington Times.