Leadership starts at the top, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's leadership -- even that of Europe -- stands in sharp contrast to the failed leadership coming from almost every corner of the Biden Administration. Pictured: Zelenskyy meets with US President Joe Biden at the White House on September 1, 2021. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
At present, Ukraine's forces look out-gunned and outnumbered by Russia's military. If Russian President Vladimir Putin ultimately does succeed in overpowering Ukraine and its capital, Kyiv, let us make sure it is his Waterloo.
Boosted by the determined and pugnacious leadership shown by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, global reaction to Putin's invasion has been swift and hard on Russia. Sanctions on the Russian Central Bank and the restrictions on some Russian banks from the SWIFT banking transaction system have reduced the value of a Russian ruble to less than a penny while interest rates in Russia top 20%. The Russian stock market has been preemptively closed to prevent a crash, and Russian airlines are banned from flying over large swaths of the planet.
In a surprising move, Germany in an astounding reversal, put Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline on hold, and on March 1, its operator filed for bankruptcy and fired all its employees. In another impressive about-face, overturning decades of former policy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the country would increase military spending to meet NATO's defense spending requirement of 2% of GDP, and vastly increase its military capabilities. As a U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, I had advocated both those moves.
When Putin started his military campaign, he surely did not see it unifying Europe and the West, bolstering NATO, and cratering the Russian economy.
The Biden Administration has been quick to join in on the sanctions and other measures targeting Russia, but note: Biden has joined, he has not led. It was, in fact, the Europeans who led on Nord Stream and restricting Russia's access to the SWIFT banking communications system. Europe and Canada have closed their airspace to Russian planes, yet American airspace remained open for days after that (only closing U.S. airspace as of last night). Germany reversed course on its military spending, yet the Biden Administration still refuses to reverse America's dependency on Russian oil and gas by increasing domestic production and opening pipelines at home. There also has been no move to close the gigantic loopholes that fail to sanction Russia's oil and energy sector, or to approve the EastMed pipeline that would diversify the supply of energy to Europe.
Ironically, as Americans are experiencing soaring gas prices at the pump, the U.S. is actually funding Russia's aggression in Ukraine by buying 500,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia. At $100 a barrel, that provides Putin with $50,000,000 a day to help him destroy Ukraine, possibly to be followed by Moldova, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Poland.
Rather than financing Putin's war, America should open America's Keystone XL pipeline and promote shale oil and gas production domestically. Conversely, the Biden administration, appears stuck on doubling down on its failed energy policies -- "OPEC Says to Biden: If You Want More Oil, Pump It Yourself"; the Green New Deal, where Americans are supposed to buy expensive electric vehicles that of course require of fossil fuels to manufacture, and "climate change."
It is telling of the Biden Administration's priorities that, as war rages, innocent civilians are massacred and the entire world order is being threatened by Russia, China and Iran. Regrettably, Biden's "esteemed" national security team also decided to share U.S. intelligence on Russia with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in hopes that the CCP would rally with West to deter Russian aggression. As former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, it is stunning to see that the intelligence community and the Biden national security team could even think this was a good idea.
Leadership starts at the top, and Zelenskyy's leadership -- even that of Europe -- stands in sharp contrast to the failed leadership coming from almost every corner of the Biden Administration. Under Biden's leadership, we are experiencing policies that ask Americans to sacrifice and end up paying for Russia's aggression, rather than unleashing American ingenuity and creativity to meet the challenge. As Ukrainian citizens risk their lives and die fighting to save their country, the Biden Administration is worrying about CO2. In its promotion of "green energy," we see the Biden administration embracing strategies that empower the Chinese Communist party, who control the rare earth minerals and solar panel production needed for "green energy."
Zelenskyy, who may end up paying with his life, evidently saw that he needed to provide bold leadership for his people in the face of a militarily superior foe. When the Biden team offered to help evacuate Zelenskyy from Kyiv, he responded, "I need ammunition, not a ride." Switzerland abandoned its famous neutrality to sanction Russia and freeze the legendary Swiss bank accounts of Russian oligarchs. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reversed course to close Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, now in bankruptcy, to Germany, and to bolster the German military. Sweden and Finland are seriously considering reversing long-held positions, in order to join NATO. Meanwhile the Biden Administration remains stuck on its policy of American energy dependency, even pulling the plug on the crucial EastMed gas pipeline to Europe from America's allies, Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The EastMed pipeline should be built without delay.
Let us see to it that Ukraine does become the end of the line for Putin, who has already accumulated a long trail of war crimes and other atrocities. Putin's Waterloo. We have been imposing only half-hearted financial sanctions, "riddled with loopholes" and not hitting Russia's oil and gas. We have passively been watching Putin's savage assault on Ukraine in real time his countless war crimes -- including "pummeling civilian areas" and reportedly using cluster and vacuum bombs -- as well as the humanitarian crisis he has unleashed. Let us hope that Biden shows real leadership and changes course so that America will no longer be reliant on Russia and China, regardless of the outcome. Now that would be in the best interests of the United States.
Peter Hoekstra was US Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration. He served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the second district of Michigan and served as Chairman and Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently Chairman of the Center for Security Policy Board of Advisors, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.