President Joe Biden has nominated former advisor Amos Hochstein as the State Department’s Energy Envoy. Hochstein, who is an Orthodox Jew, previously served under Obama and Biden as the State Department’s special envoy for international energy affairs from 2014 to 2017, and was also involved in Middle East issues regarding Israel.
He would oversee the U.S.-Germany deal regarding the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Axios reported. The pipeline, a major strategic and financial issue for Russia, would allow the country to bypass Ukraine when delivering oil to Europe.
Hochstein has been a vocal opponent of the deal, and is widely known as a Russia hawk and close ally of Biden. He would lend credibility to Biden’s handling for the pipeline deal, which has drawn criticism from Eastern European leaders and from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill for being too easy on Russia. Biden’s decision to waive sanctions was regarded as a measure to improve U.S.-German relations. The Biden administration previously called the deal “a Kremlin geopolitical project that threatens European energy security,”
A source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a vocal opponent of Nord Stream2, told Axios: “The hope in Kyiv is that [Hochstein’s appointment] is recognition that the policy to date has not been a success and that this appointment results in a real course improvement and is not window dressing.”
Hochstein’s grandfather Bernard Hochstein was one of the great philanthropists in America and Israel in the 1960s through 2000s, and dedicated yeshivos, girl’s schools, and parks, among other projects, to various Jewish communities.