WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned Secretary of State Tony Blinken on the administration’s deliberate failure to sanction all of the entities that are involved in the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Barrasso also questioned Sec. Blinken on the administration’s inability to achieve much-needed reforms at the World Health Organization despite rejoining the organization.
Blinken testified at today’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on the State Department’s FY 2022 budget request.
On Waiving Sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline:
“I would like to follow up on things that I asked of you during the confirmation process. And the first is Nord Stream 2, the pipeline.
“There is strong bipartisan opposition on this committee and throughout the Senate to President Biden’s deliberate failure to sanction all of the entities that are involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“Protecting this Russian trap is not in the U.S. national security interest. It is a grave mistake.
“This pipeline threatens the energy security of our friends as well as our allies.
“We know Russia uses energy as a geopolitical weapon to coerce, to manipulate. I know you’ve agreed to that during your confirmation hearing.
“It does seem that President Biden is now allowing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be added to Russia’s energy arsenal.
“Putin has said essentially the same thing. On Friday, he stated that Ukraine must show goodwill if it wants Russian gas transiting through the country to continue.
“He said that Russia is going to further threaten to cut gas to Ukraine, they’ve done that over the Donbas conflict.
“This is even before Nord Stream 2 is even completed.
“I think it’s really critical that we act now. I think we have a misguided policy right now coming from your boss, the president.
“I think it’s in our national security interest to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 now. Why is it not in our national security interest to impose those sanctions?
“I would just point out Mr. Secretary that during your confirmation process, you reiterated your opposition to Nord Stream 2 and you said ‘I am determined to do whatever we can to prevent that completion, the last hundred yards.’
“So the fact that it was 90 percent complete when you came into office, and the administration came into office, your commitment to us was the last hundred yards.”
Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Sec. Blinken on the Biden administration’s failure to sanction construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
On Making Reforms to World Health Organization (WHO):
“While President Biden and the administration vowed to reform the World Health Organization, I think it threw away its leverage early on.
“By rejoining the World Health Organization and giving it more than $200 million, the administration could have insisted reforms be made.
“The annual World Health Assembly meeting on May 24 was another opportunity to demand action.
“Yet, it just reinforced the systemic problems and the inability of this organization to make real reforms.
“For example, China succeeded in that meeting at blocking Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly.
“Taiwan only wanted to be an observer. And arguably Taiwan has one of the best records in combatting COVID-19.
“In May, you stated, ‘There is no reasonable justification for Taiwan’s continued exclusion from the forum.’
“In addition, the World Health Assembly voted to place Syria and Belarus in leadership posts at the World Health Organization.
“You claim the best way to reform the World Health Organization is from within but no reforms are being made.
“How will we be able to make any meaningful reforms at the World Health Organization if you can’t even prevent dictators like Assad, who slaughters his own people, from having a leadership role in what is the World Health Organization?
“Let me just conclude, on May 12, we had a bipartisan committee hearing titled “COVID-19 Pandemic and International Response.”
“Gayle Smith, who is the State Department coordinator for global COVID response and health security was here.
“I specifically urged her to use the World Health Assembly annual meeting to push for reforms and get them implemented. It certainly did not occur and I think it’s fair to say the actions were unsuccessful.”
Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Sec. Blinken on reforming the World Health Organization.