Months After Biden Refused to Sanction Russian Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, Germany Halts Its Certification


President Joe Biden had his chance to make a stand against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which carries natural gas under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and bypasses Ukraine. He didn’t do it.

As The Wall Street Journal noted last July, Nord Stream 2 would “increase European dependence on its natural gas, then [the Kremlin could] use it to blackmail U.S. allies.”

Now, as Russia prepares to occupy the Donbas region of Ukraine and perhaps invade more of the country, the West is taking a stand against the controversial project — although it’s not coming from the Biden administration. (This is something the White House should have done from day one, as The Western Journal has noted. We’ll continue to hold the administration accountable for this terrible decision — and you can help us by subscribing.)

Instead, Germany — which has much more to lose by taking a stand against a pipeline that will carry much of their energy under the Baltic Sea — has stopped certification of the project, The Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of two breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions — a clear, flimsy pretext for invasion and annexation — represented a “serious break of international law.”

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“Now it’s up to the international community to react to this one-sided, incomprehensible and unjustified action by the Russian president,” Sholz told reporters in Berlin.

He added that it was time “send a clear signal to Moscow that such actions won’t remain without consequences.”

That time was arguably when the pipeline was being built; Russia had already annexed Crimea by that point and was already conducting a proxy war in the Donbas region via separatist militias. That said, Chancellor Scholz only took office this December, so he hasn’t had much opportunity to change course.

Germany has had warnings that this could happen before, however.

Should Nord Stream 2 have been sanctioned by the Biden administration?

“Up to now, Berlin had long resisted pulling the plug on the project, despite strong pressure from the United States and some European countries to do so. Washington has for years also argued that building another pipeline bringing natural gas from Russia to Germany — especially one that bypasses Ukraine — increases Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies,” the AP reported.

However, one head of state who had more opportunity to take action against the pipeline project was Joe Biden — and he refused.

“I have been opposed to Nord Stream 2 from the beginning but it only has — it’s almost completed,” Biden said in May of 2021.

“To go ahead and impose sanctions now would, I think, be counterproductive in terms of our European relations.”

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“While we remain opposed to the pipeline, we reached a judgment that sanctions would not stop the pipeline and would undermine critical alliances with Germany and other European allies,” a senior State Department official told the Washington Examiner last July.

“We are making the best of a bad hand, and in doing so, we are making sure we protect our partner, Ukraine.”

That certainly worked out, no?

And it wasn’t just Joe Biden. When Senate Republicans — and a few upper-chamber Democrats — voted to sanction officials involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, the Democrats used the filibuster against the measure in January.

Despite the fact the left is fond of calling the filibuster a “Jim Crow relic” and the fact the GOP had 55 votes for the measure, it got shot down.

“We can send a strong warning to Putin that he won’t be allowed to use energy as a weapon,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Jan. 13 floor speech.

“The German government should have shelved this project itself long ago. Berlin can still make the right call.”

Berlin, at least for the moment, has. It may be too late to save Ukraine, however. As for the administration, it can unleash all the sanctions it wants now. When it mattered, though, Biden and his cohorts refused to pull the trigger. Now, not only has the West failed to deter Russia from its irredentist path, European energy independence is likely under threat. Nice work.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture