The Democrat’s electoral staff stated that their US presidential hopeful Joe Biden would oppose the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a “fundamentally bad deal”.
“Continuing the work started by the Obama-Biden Administration, President Biden will seek to strengthen Europe’s energy independence. He will continue to oppose Nord Stream 2 as a ‘fundamentally bad deal,’ as he called it in 2016,” the statement reads.
This declaration is in line with Joe Biden’s previously expressed position. "Gas and US exports align with Biden's geopolitical agenda of countering Russian influence," Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told KTEN News.
The NS2 project has been controversial for years. The US has threatened sanctions against firms participating in it. Germany and Russia argue that it is purely an economic venture, but for Poland and the US its character is political because it by-passes eastern countries that were transit sites and makes EU states dependent on Russian gas. That dependence could be used by Russia for political ends with supplies being used as bargaining counters.
NATO and the rule of law
The Democrats also stated Joe Biden’s stance on NATO, with the statement reading: “Joe Biden believes NATO's Article 5 pledge - that an attack on any NATO member is an attack on all NATO members - is an unshakable bond between the United States and Poland. Joe Biden will affirm America’s commitment to NATO, and end the Trump Administration's pandering to Vladimir Putin.”
The statement also recalls that “Joe Biden played a key role in the admission of Poland to NATO, and in providing U.S. assistance to Central European countries such as Poland after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. While some in the U.S. Senate resisted NATO enlargement after the Soviet Union collapsed, Joe was a catalytic force in persuading important holdouts to support the admission of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to NATO in 1998. Joe Biden co-authored the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act, which was designed to help countries such as Poland transition to a democratic state and free market economy after decades of Soviet domination. Joe Biden’s support for Poland’s security has endured ever since. As Vice President, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Joe Biden was a vocal proponent of sending rotations of U.S. armed forces to Poland to enhance its security and deter Russian aggression.”
The statement, most likely tailored to win Polish Americans over by addressing Polish national sentiments, also tapped into the reverence for the first Polish Pope Saint John Paul II.
“As a Catholic who remembers the impact of Pope John Paul II and the Solidarity movement on world history, Joe Biden believes the U.S. relationship with Poland is not about transactional interests - it is fundamentally about our two countries' shared history and values,” the statement reads.
The content of the statement also touched on the rule of law and human rights, with the latter being an allusion to the debate on LGBTQ+ matters in Poland. “Joe Biden will stand up for the rule of law, and will revitalise our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy at home and abroad,” the electoral staff said in the statement.
The reference to the rule of law may be indicative of a future Biden’s administration willingness to back the EC and the EP’s stance on the rule of law in Poland. It would also be a signal that the Biden administration will want to get closer to Poland’s opposition rather than the current authorities.
Some omissions could be significant
There are three striking omissions from the statement. The first is that it does not detail how Mr Biden would attempt to stop the NS2 project. He and his team do not commit themselves to continuing the threat of sanctions on European companies participating in the project. The end to such threats could be one of the conditions for a reset in relations with Germany and the EU.
Second, the statement does not mention Poland’s Three Seas initiative. A policy which has been backed by the Trump administration. The concept is close to the current Polish government and President’s hearts as it creates a North-South axis in the EU to offset the predominance of the west-east axis. Any downscaling of US support for it would be unwelcome and detrimental for the idea.
Finally, the statement while expressing support for European energy independence, does not commit a future Biden administration to any assistance to Poland with its nuclear energy programme. In contrast the Trump administration has been willing to discuss about helping Poland with such a project.