The 60-vote rule had to be changed in order for the bill on voting rights to be approved by the U.S. Senate. In order to circumvent Republican opposition to the bill, Democrats attempted to introduce simple majority rule. Yet for them to be abe to change the rules in the Senate, it was necessary for secure the unanimous vote of all 50 Democrat senators. As I’ve mentioned before in column, since Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Cinema, members of the central wing of the Democratic Party, were against the rule change, it was clear that this initiative would fail. As a matter of fact, this attempt crashed and burned, as Manchin and Cinema did not disappoint and shot down the bill, along with all 50 Republican senators on Wednesday.
Of course, Democrats will push for other options for the package regarding voting rights, but the "Ukraine issue" seems to have come to the fore as one of the crises that seem to be preoccupying the Biden Administration. There have been discussions in the U.S. for a while regarding Russia's imminent attack on Ukraine. Moscow denies these allegations. Anti-Russian hawks in Washington would beg to differ. In fact, at the core of the Ukraine issue lies NATO's policy of enlargement in Eastern and Central Europe. Several countries in these regions were previously part of the "Soviet Union." Many of these countries were members of the "Warsaw Pact" against NATO. Yet the majority of them are now NATO members. Ukraine and Georgia's attempts to join NATO are considered a "red line" for Moscow. Putin's Ukraine policy is aimed at preventing NATO from expanding towards Russia's borders. This is the main sticking point of the negotiations between the U.S. and Russia.
For the U.S. to focus on the global geo-economic power competition with China, Europe's security blueprint needs to be resolved. Russia holds the key to this solution. Meanwhile, the Washington wants Europe to fall in line when it comes to its “New Cold War” with Beijing. Of course, there are strategists in Washington who argue that Russia should be lured away from China. Russia is not oblivious to this fact. In the early 1970s, during the former Cold War era, the U.S. strengthened its policy of containment of the Soviet Union by establishing diplomatic ties with China under the leadership of Mao Zedong. America's New Cold War policy to contain China, on the other hand, includes pulling Russia away from China, as well as whipping Europe into line.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump had imposed sanctions on Russian companies that are part of Moscow's "North Stream-2" project, which will transport more natural gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Biden waived those investments. This renunciation pleased both Germany and Russia. Russian gas used to reach Europe via Ukraine. “North Stream-1” and “North Stream 2” will mean almost completely bypassing Ukraine.
The “North Stream-2” project was completed, but the new German Government had suspended regulatory approval of the line. It seems that the lifting of the suspension depends on the resolution of the "Ukrainian crisis." If the line becomes operational, Ukraine will both suffer great financial losses and lose its strategic trump card against Russia.
Biden's waiver of sanctions without consulting Kiev came as a shock to Ukraine. Anti-Russian hawks in the U.S. argue that Biden shying away from punishing Russia weakens Ukraine and Europe’s hand against Moscow. Indeed, Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican hawk, pioneered a bill to reintroduce sanctions. The bill was put to a vote in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 13. 60 votes were needed for the bill to pass. Six Democrat senators voted to approve it. However, support for managed to only secure 55 votes in total.
According to anti-China hawks in America, the U.S.'s failure to provide a deterrent response in the event of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will be perceived as a "weakness" by both allies and foes. Of course, China is chief among those rivals alluded to by said hawks. Rumors have been circulating in U.S. media that China is preparing to invade Taiwan in the near future.
According to the hawks who voiced these claims, the absence of a deterrent response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine may embolden China to invade Taiwan. In short, the Ukraine crisis will also have ripple effects that will be felt as far away as Taiwan.