Amid other foreign policy debacles – Afghanistan, opening the southern border, canceling an international energy pipeline from Canada – President Joe Biden has announced sanctions on a controversial Russian natural gas pipeline.
It’s another Biden attempt to gaslight the world – no pun intended.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday that one Russian ship and two individual Russians connected to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline now face new sanctions. The ship, and another involved in the project, now “will be identified as blocked property,” Blinken said. Overall, seven people and 16 “entities” affiliated with the project, which will carry natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, have been hit with penalties.
Yet the new sanctions do nothing to actually stop the project, which the U.S. has long opposed, and which Biden reportedly personally objects to.
Although Blinken said the sanctions reflect America’s “continuing opposition,” he added, “Even as the Administration continues to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including via our sanctions, we continue to work with Germany and other allies and partners to reduce the risks posed by the pipeline to Ukraine and frontline NATO and EU countries and to push back against harmful Russian activities, including in the energy sphere.”
In other words, the sanctions that Biden lifted in May, which were imposed by former President Donald Trump and had actually brought construction to a halt, remain shelved, and the pipeline will continue.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said only nine miles of the project remain uncompleted.
Ukraine is worried about the pipeline because it allows Russia to bypass its transmission system, thus depriving the nation of billions of dollars in revenue the Kremlin pays to route gas to Germany. That deal expires in three years.
Germany has made an agreement with the U.S. that will help defray such losses. And Biden last month threatened new sanctions on Russia if it opts to use “energy as a weapon” against Ukraine or other parts of Europe.
Still, even to Biden, that meant nothing in the current context.
“Nord Stream is 99 percent finished,” Biden told reporters at an event in Cincinnati earlier this month, The New York Times reported. “The idea that anything was going to be said or done that was going to stop it is not possible.”
According to the Times, Matthias Warnig, the managing director of Nord Stream AG, the company behind the pipeline, had said that American sanctions had delayed the project and driven up its costs, but would not stop it.
“The U.S. sanction threats have made our work much more difficult in every respect, and this also applies to certification,” he said. “But we are working on solutions and are sure we will find a way.”
So, why are we still imposing sanctions? No one seems to know, unless it’s political posturing.
After the new sanctions were announced on Friday, a U.S. energy industry analyst who advises Ukraine told Reuters they were meaningless.
“These sanctions do nothing to halt Nord Stream 2,” Daniel Vajdich, president of Yorktown Solutions, told Reuters. “The only thing that can stop NS2 from becoming operational is lifting the waivers [of the Trump sanctions] and sanctioning … Nord Stream AG, which they refuse to do,” Vajdich said.
One thing Biden did in this issue was uniting Republicans and Democrats who seem to despise Putin more than each other.
At the time of Biden’s comments, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said, “Decades from now, Russian dictators will still be reaping billions from Biden’s gift, and Europe will still be subject to Russian energy blackmail.”
“A pipeline that is 90 percent complete is a pipeline that is zero percent complete. Until it is 100 percent complete, it transmits zero natural gas. The pipeline doesn’t work until you finish it,” Cruz added.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who worked with Cruz on the earlier sanctions, said, “I’ve long contended that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should not be completed because it empowers the Kremlin to spread its malign influence throughout Eastern Europe, threatens the economic security of our European partners and puts our global stability at risk. “I continue to believe that.”
Despite these newly imposed sanctions, Putin will sell his gas and reap billions from our allies in Europe, and Biden will have sold out another friend, Ukraine, because of his intent to undo Trump’s work.
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