Republicans’ allegations that President Joe Biden’s handling of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline empowered Moscow to potentially invade Ukraine are false, former CIA chief of station Daniel Hoffman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“That is not why Vladimir Putin is doing this,” Hoffman said. “That has nothing to do with the timing of why he’s doing this. He’s deadly serious about Ukraine not joining NATO and that’s the way he’s looking at this.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the U.S. would waive sanctions on the pipeline, which is run by the Russian state-run firm Gazprom, in May. Biden gave the final approval in July after meeting with then-Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
As thousands of Russian troops have assembled at the border, with U.S. intelligence estimating Moscow has developed plans for an invasion, some Republicans have blamed the Nord Stream 2 decision for the crisis. Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told the DCNF that Biden’s “weakness” on the issue led Russian President Vladimir Putin to act.
“Biden’s surrender on Nord Stream 2 sealed this perception and left Ukraine open to invasion by giving Putin an alternative route to move gas to Europe,” Cruz said. “That’s why Russian tanks are massing on the Ukrainian border right now.”
“President Biden gave Putin a pass on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told the DCNF. “That decision left our friends in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, incredibly vulnerable to Moscow. Now, we find that Putin is planning an invasion on Ukraine.”
Hoffman argued that those making such assertions are playing politics, as sanctions were never going to “change Putin’s calculus.”
“I don’t think that holds water at all,” Hoffman told the DCNF. “It’s because of ideas like liberty, freedom and democracy, which is what Ukraine has going for it … if those ideas came to Russia, Putin would be gone.”
The Russian foreign ministry released a list of demands amid the escalating conflict on Friday, one of which was asking NATO to rescind its promise to Ukraine and Georgia that they would eventually become members, Reuters reported.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan has argued that Nord Stream 2 actually gives the U.S “leverage,” because if Putin wants gas to flow through the pipeline, “he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine.”
Former Under Secretary of Defense Robert Wilkie, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, took the opposite stance, agreeing with Republicans who stated that Nord Stream 2 played a role in Russia sending its troops to the border.
“Biden made a preemptive concession at the beginning of his administration without going to the table and talking with Putin,” he previously told the DCNF. “Once the natural gas starts to flow, you have just tethered Western European comfort and prosperity to Moscow.”
Oleksiy Reznikov, the Ukrainian defense minister, told CNN that a Russian invasion would lead to a “really bloody massacre.” A senior military adviser for the country reportedly told The New York Times that Ukraine might have to open its weapons depots to its citizens if worst came to worst.
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