Virtue Signaling as Russia Threatens to Invade

Virtue Signaling as Russia Threatens to Invade
(Maksim Blinov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

In the face of Russian aggression, the U.S. Congress continues to pursue sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden and Germany’s new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, feign strength to salvage what remains of their foreign policies. In doing so, Biden asks us to believe he will work with allies to act if Russia invades Ukraine, but a leaked classified document exposes Germany’s floundering credibility. 

Both leaders have summoned nothing more than virtue signals and a dependence on a failed Joint Statement signed between Biden and Merkel in July. However, in the months that followed, the leaders have done nothing. The alarming refusal to acknowledge recent developments undermines the supposed commitment to act should Russia continue its malign influence and its weaponization of energy exports. 

What further evidence is needed? Putin continues his military build-up and his manipulation of both migrant and energy flows to create chaos and uncertainty in Europe. If that wasn’t enough, Putin is even alleged to be orchestrating a coup d’état in Ukraine. Thankfully, the U.S. coal sector has stepped up to supply Ukraine with critical energy supplies in the form of coal, as alternative sources have been completely cut off by Russia. 

Biden, himself a veteran of Ukraine policy, finds himself pursuing the very policies that created the crisis in the first place. After waiving sanctions supported by Congress, Biden, just days after a call with Putin, is now withholding much needed military aide to Ukraine despite the country's urgent pleas for support. 

Behind these policies lies the unmistakable shadow of Germany’s captured elites, including Scholz. After all, the Joint Statement is simply a regurgitation of the infamous “dirty deal” offered by then Finance Minister Scholz to former U.S. President Donald Trump. In exchange for sanctions waivers for Nord Stream 2, the original deal saw Germany attempt to bribe American interests through a hollow offer $1.0 billion in LNG imports. The new version simply offers a German climate fund for Ukraine. The Trump administration flatly rejected the proposal, while Biden has embraced it. 

Trump recognized that besides increasing Russia’s leverage over Europe, particularly Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 would generate significant revenue for Russia’s rainy day fund, which it uses as a bulwark against the very sanctions being threatened. The only true means of holding Russia accountable is to outright terminate the pipeline until Putin adheres to international agreements. Now, however, the world is left scratching its head trying to understand why Biden colluded with Germany to take Putin’s greatest desire off the negotiating table. 

What’s more, Americans now see Biden’s administration co-opted by Russo-German special interests. Biden has even directed his administration to lobby Congressional Democrats to kill any inclusion of sanctions in the annual defense bill. These actions find Biden doing the work that Gazprom-controlled Nord Stream 2 AG has paid notable U.S. lobbying firms like Roberti Global and BGR Group millions to influence. 

It is increasingly clear that neither Biden nor Scholz understand how to effectively deal with Putin, a man that has repeatedly demonstrated little regard for Western-oriented international bodies, agreements, or the like. He understands only the language of strength and revenue. Nord Stream 2 offers Putin both.

Nord Stream 2 is undoubtedly tied to the sovereignty of Ukraine, and there is a stark correlation between Putin’s actions and the pipeline’s near-completion. It is time for the U.S. and NATO to firmly reject Russia’s hypocritical red-lines around Ukraine and demonstrate strength. 

If Germany wishes to save its own credibility, it must stop hiding behind endless “processes to identify options” to respond to Russia and stop veiling their own complicity in bringing about the current crisis. Instead, Chancellor Scholz should recognize that Nord Stream 2 is the greatest piece of leverage in the German arsenal and temper its misguided enthusiasm for Russian gas. 

Should Germany continue its failed policies of appeasement then future Administrations, and our regional allies, might find themselves questioning whether our policies truly align. In the meantime, Americans and Ukrainians alike should look to Congress for the necessary actions, and hope that Russian and German-backed lobbying efforts end in failure.




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