Former President Donald Trump didn’t shy away from confrontation with Russia, announcing a decision last year to withdraw and reduce the existing military presence in Germany, redirecting a portion toward eastern European allies. This move came as a response to the failure of Germany and other NATO allies to contribute their fair share toward defense spending. This decision was met with heavy criticism as many politicians claimed that an eastward push would signal an act of aggression toward Russia. Fast forward a year, and the new administration is adopting an indirectly softened position on Russia, evidenced in complicity in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 deal.
Biden apparently cares less about deterrence and more about politics. The editorial team for National Review discusses the Biden administration’s most recent international posturing, stating that “the administration has consistently deferred to German sensitivities, if not rhetorically, then in practice.”
In May, the Biden administration effectively ended Congressional sanctions leveled against major players in the deal, paving the way for the project’s completion. The pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea, threatens Ukraine’s ability to use current pipeline transit routes through its country as leverage against Russian encroachment.
Berlin claims only economic self-interest, denying the political implications of such a deal, and President Biden seems more interested in cozying up with Germany than ensuring long-term security on Europe’s eastern front. “While we remain opposed to this pipeline, we reached the judgment that sanctions would not stop its construction and risked undermining a critical alliance with Germany, as well as with the EU and other European allies,” said a senior administration official.
While the agreement crafted between the U.S. and Germany contains some concessions for safeguarding European security, it represents a figurative slap in the face to Poland and Ukraine. Eastern European leaders now have cause to question Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s May promise to stand with Ukraine and appeal to “Russia to cease reckless and aggressive actions.” The foreign ministers of both European nations regard the deal as insufficient to “effectively limit the threats created by NS2.”
It seems Biden cares more about restoring relations with a self-interested Germany than the whole of European security.