Joe Biden has reached an agreement with Angela Merkel and Nord Stream 2 will be completed. This says much about Poland’s two most important allies and conclusions must be drawn.
Despite pressure from congress, the White House waived imposing sanctions on the company responsible for building Nord Stream 2. The timing of this decision is surprising because Germany is choosing a new Bundestag in just four months and the Greens, according to polls, may be the new ruling party. The Greens are a party which has announced the withdrawal of political support for the pipeline and a more assertive policy towards Moscow.
Yet, Joe Biden seems to have been driven by even more important considerations. The current priority for his internal policy is the rebuilding and social reconstruction of America after the largest crisis in three generations wrought by Covid-19. This is meant to ensure that the Republicans will not regain a majority in Congress in a year and a half and the White House in 2024.
Meanwhile, in foreign policy there is nothing more important to Biden than stopping the power of authoritarian China which is aiming to strip America of its status of the sole superpower since the end of the Cold War. The 79-year-old Biden has decided that he does not have time or the stamina for other issues.
Vladimir Putin has drawn conclusions from this.
Soon after the inauguration of the new US president, he put much effort into showing how much Russia can interfere with Washington’s plans in both of the aforementioned areas. He threatened a war with Ukraine and paralyzed America’s largest oil pipeline (Colonial Pipeline) through a hacker attack (although Biden later said that there was no evidence the Russian government had anything to do with the pipeline hack). The conflict in Israel has also given Putin a perfect tool for drawing American attention away, especially thanks to the Russian-controlled Syria.
Through all of this, Putin has shown that while he is leading an economy smaller than that of South Korea, owing to authoritarian power, he can still hurt as much as players from other leagues.