US Energy Policies Created Financially Favorable Conditions for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Rick Santorum

By Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska
Ella Kietlinska is a reporter for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S. and world politics.
and Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp is an award-winning investigative reporter with The Epoch Times and host of EpochTV's "Crossroads" program. He is a recognized expert on unrestricted warfare, asymmetrical hybrid warfare, subversion, and historical perspectives on today’s issues. His 10-plus years of research and investigations on the Chinese Communist Party, subversion, and related topics give him unique insight into the global threat and political landscape.
March 16, 2022Updated: March 16, 2022

Weaknesses of the Biden administration’s energy policies became one of the decisive factors that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, said Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

War needs to be financed, and Russia relies on the revenue from the energy sector to fund its military and continue to feed its people, Santorum said in a March 11 interview for EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program.

Since oil prices increased from about $60 to $65 per barrel a year ago to about $130 per barrel recently, Russia “can sell half as much oil and still make as much money as [it] made a year ago, but [it’s] gonna sell a lot more than half as much,” Santorum explained.

The combination of President Joe Biden shutting down American production of oil and gas, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, and Europe becoming more dependent on Russian energy due to “greenlighting Nord Stream 2,” as well as “China with its having Russia’s back as a purchaser of oil,” has set up a perfect situation for Russia, Santorum said.

The oil and gas industry accounts for one-fifth of Russia’s gross domestic product and makes up about 60 percent of the country’s exports, according to Inside Climate News.

A World Bank report said that the portion of Russia’s federal budget revenue from oil and gas increased by 60 percent during the first nine months of 2021.

At the end of 2021, Russia’s sales of oil and natural gas far exceeded initial forecasts for 2021 as a result of skyrocketing prices, and it made up 36 percent of the country’s total budget, Reuters reported.

After Biden announced on March 8 that the United States would ban imports of Russian oil due to the invasion of Ukraine, the crude oil price in Europe hit a high of $132 per barrel, and in the United States, the price hit a high of $123 per barrel, Chadwick Hagan, a financier and entrepreneur, wrote for The Epoch Times.

The policy to not buy Russian oil—although it makes some sense, Santorum said—is not going to have a big impact on Russia’s ability to sell oil if most of the European countries and the rest of the world continue to buy it, he said.

“The thing that will stand up to the Russians is to reduce the price of oil. And the way you reduce the price of oil is producing more oil,” Santorum said.

“We can get a lot of production online very, very quickly. But the administration sent the message to the oil companies, which is, ‘We don’t want you doing this, we don’t want you doing this on federal land. … We’re gonna make it hard for you. We’re gonna make it expensive for you.'”

Oil-producing companies have no trust in the government’s intentions and are reluctant to produce more oil, fearing that the policy may change in six months because of the Green New Deal, Santorum said.

Biden Administration’s Energy Policies

Epoch Times Photo
Pumpjacks in the Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, Calif., in a file photo. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Before the pandemic, the United States had been an oil and natural gas exporter, he said.

To be able to export natural gas, a country needs shipping facilities on the coast where ships can pull in, fill themselves up with natural gas, and deliver it to buyers, Santorum said.

Although a few gas shipping plants were built in the United States within the last several years, more are needed, but the Biden administration is delaying those projects, he explained.

“We can produce as much gas as the world needs, but we don’t have the facilities to ship it out because Biden is sitting on the permits,” Santorum added. “Biden is strengthening Russia, weakening America’s dominance in the oil area, all to the benefit of the Russians.”

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued two policy statements making it clear that the hurdles to permit liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and their feeder pipelines would be getting higher, not lower,” said Tom Pyle, chairman of the Institute for Energy Research, when he testified before a congressional committee on March 8.

Instead of producing more oil at home, Washington is asking Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Iran to produce more oil, Santorum said.

The Biden administration is looking to secure oil supplies from Venezuela by removing sanctions on the country. U.S. sanctions against Venezuela began under former President Barack Obama. Under the Trump administration, economic sanctions were tightened, specifically on the oil sector, while domestic oil production was significantly increased.

The sanctions were aimed at forcing socialist Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro to give up power, as the 2018 election—which placed him as the president of the country—was seen as fraudulent by Washington and over 50 other nations.

Not only does Russia benefit from America’s policies driving oil prices worldwide, but also countries like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, Santorum said.

“Most of them are not natural allies of the U.S.,” he said.

One alternative to high gas prices promoted by the Biden administration is electric cars. However, only “upper-middle-income people in America can afford to buy them,” Santorum said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told MSNBC in an interview in November 2021 that the Build Back Better bill “contains incentives that make it more affordable to buy an electric vehicle–up to a $12,500 discount, in effect, for families thinking about getting an EV, families that, once they own that electric vehicle, will never have to worry about gas prices again,” Buttigieg said.

Commentator Thomas McArdle wrote for The Epoch Times that a portion of this discount will apply only to cars produced with unionized labor within the United States. He noted that the price of electricity is also rising.

Mark Tapscott and Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.