House Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., on Wednesday claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is using profits from surging gas prices to finance his military buildup along Ukraine's border, a financing scheme he blamed President Biden for.
"Day one he killed Keystone pipeline with a stroke of a pen. Canada had oil, we can refine it in America. It was a great relationship between two friends," Scalise said during a roundtable event on Capitol Hill. "President Biden said no."
"It wasn’t that he said no to all pipelines. He turned around and green-lighted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline so that Putin could get the ability to send his oil to Germany," Scalise added. "These decisions have consequences."
U.S. gas prices hit a seven-year-high in 2021 during the aftermath of the pandemic, prompting economic shutdowns and diminished global demand for gas.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia, rolled back production during the pandemic to stave off a bust in the market.
In November, OPEC and Russia, which is not an OPEC member but which exercises considerable sway over the organization, refused to once again bolster production to meet the resurgence in demand. The move has kept gas prices artificially inflated.
But Republicans on the Hill have also contested that Biden’s moves since taking office, like shutting down the Keystone pipeline and hitting pause on all federal oil and gas lease sales, contributed to the increase in gas prices.
|XOM||EXXON MOBIL CORP.||93.89||+2.03||+2.21%|
|EOG||EOG RESOURCES INC.||128.07||+6.02||+4.93%|
|OIL||EXCHANGE TRADED NOTE - BARCLAYS CAPITAL SECURITIES WTI CRUDE PURE BETA S2 TR||35.24||+0.09||+0.24%|
"Keep in mind this is not a free market around the world. OPEC is a monopoly, it’s a cartel," Scalise said. "OPEC wants gas prices to be higher. They could produce more oil tomorrow and bring prices down. But they don’t want to."
The GOP congressman further suggested that the Kremlin has utilized surging oil prices for another geopolitical agenda.
"You know who else makes money off of high gas prices? Vladimir Putin," Scalise claimed. "And what is Putin doing right now with all of that money that Joe Biden has given him? He’s getting ready to invade Ukraine with billions of dollars he got from oil money."
Fox News Digital could not immediately reach the White House for comment on Scalise’s claims.
But his criticism of Biden’s removal of sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline earlier this year has been widely shared by Republicans on the Hill.
Senators are divided over whether sanctions should be immediately placed on the pipeline as a warning to Putin to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or if sanctions should be implemented only after a Russian invasion.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., also voiced concern over Russia having an additional hold over European access to oil.
"We’ve got enough natural gas to supply all of our needs in this country and also supply all of our friends in Europe so that they don’t have to rely on Vladimir Putin’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline," Duncan said.
"Because, historically, Putin has turned the spigot on and off to influence political policy in Europe."