In late August 2016, Joe Biden was dispatched by the Obama administration to Europe to conduct an urgent diplomatic blitz. His choice of destinations—Turkey, Latvia, and Sweden—sent an unmistakable signal to the great power these nations ring: Russia.

During his swing through Sweden, Biden told reporters that the proposed Nord Stream II pipeline, which would transit Russian gas into Germany while circumventing Ukraine and potentially denying gas transit revenues to Kyiv, was a “bad deal for Europe.” On this, the Trump administration appeared to agree, as did the federal legislature. Over the next four years, Donald Trump himself hectored Germany over its continued support for this pipeline while augmenting U.S. natural-gas exports to Europe to offset the continent’s energy demands. Congress did its part, too, authorizing sanctions against entities that take part in the construction of or provide services for that conduit.

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