Congressional hearings are all but intentionally designed to be uninteresting, but anyone who tuned into the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this Tuesday would have seen something remarkable.
I asked Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland if she agreed that allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to complete his Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany would be “a disaster for American national security,” that it would make our European allies subject to economic and energy blackmail from Russia, and that it would empower Putin to carry out exactly that blackmail. She tersely answered, “I do, senator.”
A few hours later the Biden administration announced it had inked a deal to allow Putin to complete his Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
This decision is a total surrender to Putin. It is a multibillion-dollar gift that will keep on giving in perpetuity at the expense of the United States and our allies. It is a generational geopolitical mistake. Russian dictators, decades from now, will be reaping billions of dollars every year from President Joe Biden’s gift.
It is also in defiance of U.S. law. To implement this catastrophic deal, he will have to waive mandatory, bipartisan sanctions that I authored and led, and that former President Donald Trump signed into law not once, but twice. Those sanctions shut down construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline — until the Biden administration took over, at which point Putin assessed that if he restarted construction, the U.S. would roll over.
Unfortunately, Putin was right.
The U.S.-German deal is embarrassingly weak. It relies on a vague assurance that after Putin ramps up the blackmail enabled by the deal, Germany will take unspecified actions in response. When asked for details of what such actions might be, the White House says it doesn’t want to specify because doing so would benefit Putin. Again, embarrassing.
Now Biden and his allies, including in the press, are absurdly claiming that it is Trump’s fault they surrendered to Putin. They say that the pipeline couldn’t have been stopped.
That claim is laughably false. A pipeline that is 90% complete is 0% complete; it doesn’t work until the last mile is finished. And we know that for a fact: We did stop the pipeline. Putin halted construction on the very same day that the sanctions were signed into law. For over a year, the pipeline lay dormant — a hunk of metal at the bottom of the ocean — until Biden was elected. Only then did Putin resume construction.
Instead of demonstrating strength and following U.S. law by keeping those sanctions, when Biden got elected, he started sending signals he would be soft on Russia, and then he waived the sanctions and is now allowing Putin to finish the pipeline.
Overall, Biden handed Putin the biggest gift he’s received in years. He also signaled to Putin that when push comes to shove, the American president is weak and will bow to political pressure.
And the State Department knows it and even says it out loud.
Ted Cruz is the junior U.S. senator for Texas.