Since assuming office last Wednesday, President Joe Biden has been busy issuing more than two dozen executive decisions that will profoundly affect domestic affairs and foreign policies. Among his foreign polices directives, two decisions stand out. They’ll benefit Russia at the expense of the interests of our allies, American workers, and America’s national security.
The first executive decision that benefits Russia was Biden’s executive order to rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone project plans to build a 1,200-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, where it would join existing pipelines so 830,000 daily barrels of oil from Canada can easily reach refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast. From there, they could be exported conveniently to the rest of the world market.
The Canadian company that proposed the project, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), applied for U.S. government approval of the project in 2008, when America was experiencing one of the worst economic recessions in our nation’s history. A study by the Obama administration’s State Department estimated the pipeline would create “3,200 temporary construction jobs directly, 42,000 additional jobs indirectly, and generate over $2 billion in wages.”
TC Energy sweetened the appeal of the project to Democrats by promising “a $10 million Green Job Training Fund; $500 million for indigenous suppliers and jobs; and 100 percent renewable power to operate the pipeline.”
Russia Loves Biden’s Scuttling of the Keystone XL Deal
In addition to economic benefits, an increased supply of oil from a friendly ally like Canada will reduce dependency on Russian oil supplies among our energy-deficient European allies. About 30 percent of the European Union’s gas imports and 35 percent of its oil imports come from Russia. Germany, the largest economy in the European Union, is even more vulnerable — 36 percent of its natural gas imports and close to 40 percent of its oil imports come from Russia.
This explains why, despite strong objections from both the Obama administration and the Trump administration, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will bring Russian gas to Germany, must go forward.
The EU’s dependency on Russian energy presents a serious security risk. If Russia were to cut off energy supplies to the EU, some estimate the EU’s reserves would only allow it to survive for three months. No wonder the EU wields so little leverage to hold Russia’s Putin accountable for his domestic and international aggressions.
Unfortunately, the Keystone project has become a victim of leftist politics. Even though President Obama’s State Department found through five separate studies the project would have no material impact on greenhouse gas emissions, environmentalist groups have fought the project since day one. Additional analysis shows that shipping oil by rail or tanker would generate more greenhouse gas emissions and more chances for leaks than through a pipeline.
When two American Indian groups in Nebraska joined the opposition to the pipeline project on the ground of tribal sovereignty, TC Energy offered an alternate route to address their concerns.
Despite all the benefits, compromises, and multiple rounds of environmental analysis, President Obama eventually refused to issue the presidential permit for the pipeline, still claiming it would increase greenhouse gas emissions. When Trump was elected, he quickly approved the project to go ahead. Yet, on day one of Biden’s presidency, he revoked the permit for the pipeline.
Biden’s decision is an insult to Canada, one of America’s most trusted allies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment as the pipeline “supports thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.”
In addition, Biden’s decision is a slap in the face of American workers. With the stroke of a pen, Biden made thousands of well-paying job opportunities disappear at a time the unemployment rate in the United States is still quite high due to the government-mandated lockdowns during the pandemic. Because Canada will not stop producing and shipping oil, revoking the pipeline project does little to better the environment and will force Canada to find a new partner, most likely China.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, however, is assuredly ecstatic over Biden’s decision. Indeed, Biden just took a viable competitor of Russia’s energy supply off the table. Going forward, Putin can easily weaponize Russia’s energy supplies to compel the EU to accept his domestic oppression of dissent and enable him to achieve aggressive foreign policy goals.
The Flawed New Arms Treaty
If the Keystone XL debacle wasn’t bad enough, President Biden delivered another gift to Russia on day two by announcing that he would seek a five-year extension to the “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty” arms control pact with Russia.
The treaty, signed by President Obama in 2010 and set to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, limits the United States and Russia to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads each. The treaty, however, is deeply flawed. Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute specializing in nuclear deterrence and missile defense, notes one major defect:
Due to the treaty’s counting rules, a bomber is counted as one weapon no matter how many nuclear bombs it carries. This permits greater uncertainty rather than clarity and demonstrates that New START’s much-vaunted ‘cap’ on deployed strategic nuclear weapons really are not.
Another weakness of the treaty is that it doesn’t address how to limit Russia’s capacity to pursue other nuclear weapons outside of the treaty. Russia has been taking advantage of this loophole by modernizing its existing nuclear weapons and developing new ones while claiming compliance with the treaty.
Patty-Jane Geller, the policy analyst for nuclear deterrence and missile defense at the Heritage Foundation, writes, “New START did not limit tactical warheads, and Russia maintains a tactical arsenal of an estimated 2,000 warheads” (in contrast, the United States has about 500).
Additionally, as Geller points out, “Russia has also been developing destabilizing new delivery systems outside of New START, including an unmanned, underwater nuclear drone, a nuclear-powered cruise missile, and an air-launched ballistic missile, all nuclear-armed” adding “Russia is developing new high-yield and earth-penetrating warheads to attack hardened U.S. military targets.”
What’s even more disturbing, according to Geller, is that while Russia has been building up its nuclear weapons outside the limits of the treaty, under the Obama administration, “the United States not only reduced its deployed warhead and delivery vehicle count but decided to limit its own capabilities that are not restricted by the treaty.”
Blind to other Threats
Worse still, the New START treaty is so outdated it doesn’t include China. The Pentagon warned last year that China has been rapidly building up its nuclear weapon capacity, and will likely double its nuclear warhead stockpile within the next decade.
The Pentagon also concluded that China’s People’s Liberation Army has “already achieved parity with or exceeded the US in at least three key areas: shipbuilding, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, and integrated air defense systems.” Any nuclear arms treaty without China as a signatory is largely meaningless and doesn’t make the world a safer place, which is exactly why the Trump administration was pressing to bring China into its nuclear arms control talks with Russia.
Experts such as Heinrichs and Geller say it didn’t serve our national interests to renew the New START without fixing its flaws. They all recommended the Biden administration engage Russia for a new round of negotiations and find a way to bring China to the table.
Yet Russia has been urging the Biden administration to renew the treaty in its present form since it doesn’t restrict Russia from modernizing its existing nuclear weapons nor from developing new ones. By agreeing to extend the same treaty for five years without any fixes, President Biden is doing precisely what Russia is asking for.
Democrats and the leftist legacy media have treated Russia as the biggest threat to America’s democracy on daily basis for the last four years. They accused the Trump campaign of “collusion” with Russia during the 2016 presidential race even though an extensive investigation found no credible evidence for this extreme claim, while Trump was frequently criticized for not being tough on Putin.
Yet, from revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit to seeking an automatic extension of a flawed and outdated New START treaty, President Biden’s first 48 hours in office have greatly benefited Russia at the expense of the interests of our allies, American workers, and America’s national security. Nevertheless, his Democrat colleagues on Capital hill and media allies don’t seem to mind at all. It’s as if the threats Russia poses suddenly evaporated once a Democrat took the White House.