Russian President Vladimir Putin is a very happy man these days, suggested former United Nations (U.N.) Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday, Jan. 27. President Joe Biden has a lot do with that.
Haley noted that the Biden administration’s axing of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project and the moves to “ban fracking” played right into Russia’s hands.
“Putin has to be pretty ecstatic right now,” Haley told Fox News. “One of the things that bothered him the most was how energy independent we had become.”
She went ahead and called Biden’s first seven days in office “a good first week for Russia.”
Under former President Donald Trump, the United States became the world’s top oil producer and maintained its position as the top global producer of natural gas. In 2019, the country became a net exporter of petroleum (crude oil and refined) products for the first time since 1949.
But Biden’s early moves suggest he’s not interested to continue the Trump administration’s efforts to maximize fossil fuel production.
Shortly after his inauguration, Biden moved to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and revoked a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Trump backed out of the accord and revived the pipeline project after it hit a snag under former President Barack Obama.
The ongoing trend didn’t escape Haley. She said that Biden is “more interested in reversing everything President Trump did” rather than looking forward.
Last week, the Biden administration imposed a 60-day suspension of new permits for oil and gas leasing, drilling and fracking on federal lands. He went a step further on Wednesday by issuing an executive order that halts oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based group representing fuel producers on federal lands, quickly filed a lawsuit on the same day to stop the executive order.
Biden and Putin are not exactly friends, but they are not enemies either. (Related: Hunter Biden colluded with Russia to enrich his family’s coffers.)
According to the White House, Biden warned the Russian leader about election meddling in their first call as counterparts Tuesday, Jan. 26. A Kremlin statement had a milder description of the call, saying that it was “businesslike and frank.”
Reports said they both agreed to extend the last remaining nuclear deal of the two countries – the New Start treaty. It is due to expire on Feb. 5, but both sides agreed to extend the treaty.
The New Start treaty is an Obama-era accord that limits the amounts of warheads, missiles and launchers in the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia.
The Trump administration refused to sign it and talks over an extension stalled.
On Wednesday, Russia’s parliament ratified a five-year extension of the treaty – a move that Putin said was a “step in the right direction” to reducing global tensions.
The two presidents also discussed the massive SolarWinds cyberattack, which has been blamed on Moscow, as well as the reports that the Kremlin placed bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan and the poisoning of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny.
Biden had indicated that, compared to his predecessor, he would be tougher on Putin.
While Trump frequently cast doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Biden directly told Putin that he knew Russia had tried to meddle in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. Biden also warned the Russian president that the U.S. is ready to defend itself against cyber-espionage and any other attacks.
However, the Obama administration featuring Biden as vice president has also been criticized for failing to check Russia when it annexed Crimea, supported rebel forces in eastern Ukraine and backed the government of war-torn Syria.
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