Russia’s long game on Ukraine, energy and Europe – Fox News

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President Biden took to the East Room to announce a series of sanctions against Russia, as punishment for its “minor incursion” into two provinces of eastern Ukraine. From the gravity in his voice, he must have assumed Vladimir Putin would be in the Kremlin, quaking in his boots. I doubt President Putin even bothered to shrug his shoulders.   

Putin’s power grab in eastern Ukraine is a done deal, a repeat of his rapid occupation and annexation of Crimea after the Sochi Olympics in 2014. What do these two power grabs have in common? Joe Biden, obviously. He was vice president for the first, and president for the second.   

But they have something else in common – high energy prices. In 2014 oil was about $100 a barrel, just like today.


Russia’s main export is energy resources. Nobody buys Russian watches or computers or cars. Just about everybody buys Russian oil and gas. When energy prices are high, Russia is flush with cash, and emboldened to do ambitious things.   

Putin understood this decades ago. In the early 1990s, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Putin left the KGB and went to graduate school. With an eye to politics, he used his dissertation to outline how to rebuild Russia through energy exports. He advocated taking oil and gas companies away from the oligarchs and bringing them under centra government control.

After investing in infrastructure, and building pipelines, Russia could export gas and oil, especially to Europe. Russia could use the revenues to rebuild its central government and military. Europe’s energy dependency would give Putin with political and economic leverage over his customers.   

Putin was prepared to play the long game, and he has finally seen his efforts pay off. 

What he didn’t anticipate was America’s shale oil and gas technology revolution. Nor did he anticipate a businessman like Donald Trump would become president.   

Thanks to Biden, Russia was rich and powerful again.

Trump understood the extraordinary opportunities America’s sudden newfound energy wealth offered. We could finally be energy independent. We could become one of the world’s major energy exporters, perhaps replacing Russia and Arab oil countries as the main supplier to Europe and even Asia.   

American exports entering the market would force down global energy prices, and push Russia (and Iran) into near bankruptcy. We could help save the climate as companies and countries moved from expensive, dirty coal to inexpensive, clean American natural gas. It was a win, win, win proposition for the U.S., and lose, lose, lose for Russia. 

Inexplicably, President Biden threw away all that wealth and leverage a year ago. Immediately upon taking office, he started shutting down the U.S. oil and natural gas industries, cut back on U.S. energy exports and canceled the Keystone Pipeline. At the same time, he gave Russia an extraordinary opportunity, by allowing Russia’s considerable stranglehold over European energy supplies to expand even further.


Predictably, when Biden got the U.S. out of the energy exporting business, oil and natural gas prices skyrocketed. Russia got a windfall because the revenue from their exports doubled almost overnight. Their political leverage over Europe grew even more powerful. European nations get about half of their energy from importing Russian oil and natural gas. Russian energy heats their homes, powers their factories, runs their cars. Putin seized that window of opportunity. 

Thanks to Biden, Russia was rich and powerful again. Putin could realize his lifelong ambition of driving a wedge between the NATO allies and restoring the former Soviet empire.   

The tragic reality is today Putin can do whatever he wants with Ukraine, whenever he wants, and the U.S. and our European allies cannot or will not do anything to stop him. If they try to shut down Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Russia already has China lined up as the replacement buyer.


If Biden were serious about stopping Putin, he would restart the American energy industry, build LNG terminals at home and abroad, and offer our European allies energy security. That would remove Putin’s chokehold over Europe.  

It would also drive down oil and gas prices, and once again wipe out Putin’s energy windfall profits. Wars are expensive, so are invasions and occupations. This week Putin put another piece of Ukraine under his belt. The way to prevent him from getting all of Ukraine, or making moves against even more former Soviet states, is to take away his piggy bank.


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