President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet face to face in Geneva, Switzerland in June. Although the two leaders have reportedly spoken twice since Biden took office, this will be their first in-person meeting since then, and it comes on the heels of Biden being criticized domestically for waiving sanctions on a Russian-German pipeline.
“The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Russian criminal group DarkSide hacked the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile-long oil pipeline that supplies 45 percent of fuel for the East Coast of the United States. Colonial relaunched on May 12, and the Russian hackers received a ransom of $4.4 million.
White House sources told Axios last week that Biden plans to waive sanctions on Nord Stream 2, the Russian-German pipeline. The administration’s leniency comes after the January cancelation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which runs from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska and provided tens of thousands of jobs and health care to employees. The State Department recently estimated that Biden’s decision resulted in the loss of 26,100 jobs that would have come from the project.
In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is “determined to do whatever we can to prevent that completion” of the Nord Stream 2. But it seems the White House has taken another position.
Gas from Russia goes through Ukraine en route to Europe. The pipeline allows the country to bypass Ukraine and have a direct pipeline to Germany, giving Russia the opportunity to cut off the delivery of goods and services to the neighboring country, which has become a democracy to Putin’s dismay. As Axios noted, Nord Stream 2 is “one of Vladimir Putin’s core priorities” because Russia aims to put pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz slammed Biden last month for being “soft on Russia.”
“Biden is soft on Russia,” Cruz tweeted. “We had a major bipartisan victory stopping Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Putin resumed building immediately after Biden was elected. Biden Admin dragging their feet on mandatory sanctions is a multi-billion gift to Putin.”
Biden is soft on Russia.
We had a major bipartisan victory stopping Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Putin resumed building immediately after Biden was elected.
Biden Admin dragging their feet on mandatory sanctions is a multi-billion gift to Putin. https://t.co/NTYNq8KzMZ
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 16, 2021