We knew that it would take some time to see whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did enough to persuade U.S. President Joe Biden during their White House meeting on September 1 that the U.S. president needed to do more to help Ukraine fend off a barrage of ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine. That belligerence has taken on various forms, be it via Russia’s design to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as an economic weapon against Ukraine, or through an all-out war in eastern Ukraine, where the country’s military has come under increasing assault in recent weeks.
More than 60 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and some 150 troops have been wounded so far this year in the war fighting Russian-armed formations in Ukraine’s two easternmost regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Asked during the annual Yalta European Strategy summit on September 10 whether there was a chance of a large-scale war with Russia, Mr. Zelenskyy said it would be the “worst thing,” though he did not rule out the possibility. “There is such a possibility,” he said, but it would be Russia’s “biggest mistake.” Which is precisely why membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a major priority for Ukraine, as Article 5 of the NATO charter states that an attack on any member of the organization would be considered an attack on all of its members. That article is often referred to as the mutual defense clause.
With regard to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a September 15 report by Diane Francis in the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to weaponize Russian gas supplies to Europe.
“With construction work on Russia’s controversial energy pipeline now finally complete, critics say the Kremlin is artificially pushing up gas prices in a bid to speed up the lengthy certification process and make the pipeline operational. Such maneuvers would appear to justify earlier fears over Vladimir Putin’s weaponization of Russian energy supplies to the EU, but there has yet to be any significant response from Washington, Berlin, or Brussels,” Ms. Francis wrote.
Indeed, we too are perplexed by Mr. Biden’s actions on Nord Stream 2, but it is important to note that there is a significant and co-equal branch of the federal government which seems rightly hellbent on doing what they can to stop certification of Mr. Putin’s pet pipeline project. U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and a bipartisan group of some eight other lawmakers on September 14 introduced an amendment that orders the president to impose sanctions on any entity responsible for the planning, construction or operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We commend this group of lawmakers for continuing to fight to stop the pipeline, and we urge all of our readers to contact their representatives immediately to let them know you support the legislation, known as the National Defense Authorization Act.