Joe Biden and Germany Give Green Light to Putin's Aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin is once again outplaying Germany. The Kremlin sees clearly that Europe is on the verge of its worst energy crisis, largely because Germany has abandoned the goal of diversification. In the chaos, Putin is posturing to ensure his interests are secure, and at the heart of his strategy is Ukraine and Nord Stream 2.

The response from the Biden Administration continues to be weak and slow. In fact, Biden has recycled the same diplomats who championed blankets for Ukraine as a legitimate foreign policy, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. This year is shaping up to be no different as eastern Europe faces a fresh reminder of their dependence on Putin.

Consistent natural gas transit is undeniably critical to Ukraine’s security because without it, Ukraine loses significant revenue – funds that enable it to provide logistical support for front-line troops and its important campaign of fighting corruption. As Nord Stream 2 nears completion, Ukraine will be faced with the stark reality that its leverage against Russia has been eliminated by Germany’s political leadership. Thankfully, Senator Ted Cruz is not giving up and is still pressuring every possible angle to stop the full implementation of Putin's pipeline of influence.

Former Chancellor Merkel has already overseen a rewriting of Europe’s borders when she and other European leaders sat idly by with the Obama-Biden Administration as Putin took Crimea and declared war on Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Today, Joe Biden is President and he and Merkel offer little more than empty promises as Nord Stream 2 moves toward completion. Neither has recognized the reality of the situation as some 100,000 Russian troops surge on Ukraine’s eastern border and Putin’s puppet President Lukashenko threatens further disruptions. What’s more, Putin again engineers a crisis and has openly linked the current energy crisis with the final certification of Nord Stream 2. It is clear that Germany’s acting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has no idea what to do. It now falls to the minority in the U.S. Congress to lead.

Germany’s policy toward Ukraine is eerily reminiscent of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that decimated Polish sovereignty. In fact, it may be worse. Russia is clear-sighted about its ambitions, while Germany is trapped by a domestic political battle for who can do more to pretend they are combating climate change. So where is Germany’s response?

Since the annexation of Crimea and the incursions by Russian ‘little green men’ in 2014, more than 13,000 Ukrainians have lost their lives and 1.5 million have been displaced as a direct result of the ongoing war. Despite Ukraine’s pleas, Germany this year refused to supply defense aid, and even condemned Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself. Two days later, Germany certified Nord Stream 2 as NOT undermining European energy security.

We should also wonder where NATO’s commander-in-chief was during this time of crisis. Sadly, Secretary General Stoltenberg was lured to COP26 to provide his insight into NATO’s efforts to fight climate change at a time when he should have been rallying members to take the Russian buildup along Ukraine’s border seriously.

During my time as both U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Acting Director of National Intelligence, I saw firsthand the intricate web of Russian influence throughout Europe, including its deep ties to former German officials and Brussels’ elites. Former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder is clearly still running German energy and defense policies. The corruption is real, the human rights violations are real, but the response of the international community is hollow.

It is time for the West to form a new compact, one where the transatlantic relationship is solidly Western-facing. It is time for the EU, and in particular Germany, to recognize the harsh reality that Nord Stream 2 and Ukraine’s war with Russia are linked and to realize that the situation will get worse if the pipeline is ever operational.

The incoming German coalition should reform the nation’s foreign policy and recognize Germany’s existing leverage over Putin. Plainly put, this means halting Nord Stream 2 and acting on the need for NATO allies to supply Ukraine with military aid. NATO or a new coalition of allies need to quickly stand up against Russia. To sit back and wait for Joe Biden to act means Europe may watch a rewriting of its borders once again.

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