Fox News anchor Sandra Smith had to step in and remind Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Monday afternoon that a recently completed Russian gas pipeline to Europe is not actually operational and, therefore, does not provide any current revenue to the Russian government.
While interviewing the conservative lawmaker on Fox News’ America Reports, Smith brought up the global uproar over the latest atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians in Russia’s unprovoked war and wondered if this would increase U.S. involvement in the region.
“Do we need to get tougher when it comes to sanctions, senator?” Smith asked.
“Oh, yes, indeed,” Blackburn exclaimed. “We need to be tougher with the economic sanctions, there should be sanctions on Nord Stream 2. Sandra, the way that [Russian President Vladmir] Putin is able to finance this war is because you’ve got France and Germany and other EU countries still buying oil and gas from Russia.” Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States slapped sanctions on the company in charge of building and operating Nord Stream 2, a divisive energy project that was designed to increase the flow of gas between Russia and Germany.
While the pipeline was completed in September 2021, gas has yet to flow through it as German regulators halted the certification process in November when Russia began amassing troops at the Ukraine border. As Putin prepared for war against Ukraine, Germany halted the project altogether. The German president has since said it was a “mistake” not to abandon the pipeline earlier.
After saying that the U.S. needs to pick up its production and “return to being a net exporter of oil”—America is still a net energy exporter and exported more petroleum than it imported last year—Blackburn once again demanded that action be taken against Nord Stream 2.
“You have to make certain that our allies and our partners are not buying oil and fuel from Russia,” she declared. “That is going to be an imperative. And go back and put those sanctions on Nord Stream 2. What would send the fastest message? Putting sanctions back on Nord Stream and say we are not going to let you do that.”
At this point, Smith wanted to know if Blackburn was confusing Nord Stream 1—a long-existing pipeline that carries Russian gas to Europe—with Nord Stream 2. (Notably, it was Smith herself who was fact-checked on-air last month about the Keystone XL pipeline’s impact on America’s oil supply.)
“But some say that was not even a revenue source to begin with, that the gas wasn’t even currently flowing,” the Fox News anchor noted.
“Are you saying Nord Stream or Nord Stream 2?” Smith added. “Because that was not money in Putin’s pocket to begin with.”
Blackburn, though, merely shrugged off Smith’s remarks while not offering any additional clarity.
“Sandra, what it does is provide certainty as to where we are going to be,” the Republican senator responded. “And that is vitally important to do.”