Axios reports that the Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany. This means, in all likelihood, that the pipeline will become operational.
That’s a huge win for Vladimir Putin. Why? For one thing, as Axios says, Russian gas currently has to pass through Ukraine on its way to Europe. Bypassing Ukraine with a direct pipeline to Germany is an opportunity for Russia to advance its goal of isolating its former client state, now a fledgling democracy, from Western Europe.
In addition, the pipeline increases Russian leverage over the rest of Europe. Axios quotes a State Department official who says: “The Biden administration has been clear that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security and that of Ukraine and eastern flank NATO allies and partners.”
Indeed, the Biden administration is on the record as stating:
Our position on Nord Stream 2 has been very clear, and it remains unchanged. President Biden has made clear that Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal. It’s a bad deal because it divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and Central Europe to Russia — Russian manipulation, and because it goes against Europe’s own stated energy and security goals.
Yet, Team Biden no longer intends to stand in the way of the deal. Biden’s tough talk about Russia turns out to be just talk — his specialty.
Biden’s decision overturns that of former president Trump. Trump was determined to block the pipeline. The morons and liars who claimed Trump was doing Putin’s bidding, pursuant to alleged “collusion,” couldn’t reconcile Trump’s position on the pipeline with their zany, slanderous conspiracy theories, so they ignored the issue.
Now, I assume, they will ignore the contradiction between Biden’s tough talk on Russia and his willingness to allow a project vital to Putin to proceed.
To its credit, Axios isn’t ignoring the contradiction. It states correctly and unequivocally that “the completion of Nord Stream 2 would be a huge geopolitical win for Putin and give him substantial new leverage in Europe.”
Joe Biden has now seemingly ensured that Putin will have that huge win and substantial new leverage.