Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine could impact Rep. Chris Pappas’ re-election campaign in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District.

Republicans vying for the chance to take on the two-term incumbent in November all agree the Biden administration has mishandled the Russia/Ukraine issue. And, they argue, Pappas has been right there with him.

“Joe Biden and Chris Pappas’ policies have made America less safe both at home and abroad,” says Matt Mowers, the GOP’s nominee two years ago. “They shut down domestic energy production in favor of imported foreign oil, which killed American jobs and the energy independence we attained under President Trump. Instead of leveling Putin with crippling sanctions in the months leading up to the invasion, they barely slapped him on the wrist.”

Pappas issued a statement Thursday calling “the images of a premeditated Russian invasion of Ukraine stark and heartbreaking.”

But it is the “premeditated part” Republicans are pointing to in their criticism, arguing Pappas silently stood by supporting the Biden administration as the obvious danger approached.

“In the past 13 months, Chris Pappas, Nancy Pelosi, and the Biden administration have relinquished the leverage of the United States of America and enabled our adversaries to take advantage of us on the world stage,” says former Trump White House communications staffer Karoline Leavitt. “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a direct result of many actions taken by Chris Pappas and the Democrat Party, including the botched and embarrassing withdrawal in Afghanistan, the refocus of our military on woke ideology rather than training skilled warfighters, the cancellation of our own domestic energy projects like the Keystone Pipeline as we waive sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream Pipeline, and the failure to secure our own borders here at home.”

Pappas says he supports sanctions against Russia, and he acknowledges those sanctions could be felt here in the Granite State, where energy costs are already among the highest in the country.

“While the international community must use every tool at its disposal to punish Russia, the Biden Administration must also use every tool available to shield the American people and our economy from being adversely impacted as a result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” Pappas said. “As we continue to recover from the pandemic and the inflationary and supply chain challenges, we must do all we can to mitigate the economic consequences of this geopolitical upheaval.”

Does this mean Pappas supports the Biden administration decision to exempt Russia’s oil and gas industry from sanctions? Pappas’ office refused to answer the question when contacted by NHJournal.

Gail Huff Brown, a veteran journalist and wife of former Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R), calls Biden’s efforts “too little, too late.”

“Joe Biden’s decision to make the United States an energy-dependent country has made us vulnerable to countries who wish us and our allies harm while enriching Russian oligarchs. Immediate action must be taken to restore American energy independence, restart the Keystone XL pipeline, and reassure our allies that we will assist them with their energy concerns,” Huff Brown says.

Julian Acciard, a Marine Corps veteran and businessman, is also less than impressed with Biden’s sanctions approach.

“Biden recently engaged in political performance art, as most politicians do, by bringing sanctions that
have a shallow effect, if any, against Putin,” Acciard says. “Joe Biden approved the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while shutting down our own energy independence to the sound of clapping seal Rep. Chris Pappas.”

Pappas’ energy policy is a common target among his Republican opponents. Just three months ago, for example, Pappas voted for $100 billion in higher taxes on U.S. oil and gas in the Build Back Better Act.

But as his anti-energy production positions have proven problematic amid rising gasoline and home heating prices, Pappas is attempting to reverse his stance.

After years of touting policies raising taxes on fossil fuel production and subsidizing green technology, Pappas now says he wants the U.S. to produce more domestic oil.

Republicans see his move as a political “deathbed conversion,” as Biden’s polls continue to plummet and the GOP’s midterm election fortunes rise. A new UNH Survey Center poll found Biden is underwater with Granite State voters 55-43 percent.

A new national poll released Friday put Biden’s job approval at just 39 percent, while 56 percent of Americans say his presidency thus far has been a failure.

“Biden’s inadequate domestic policy is only exacerbating this foreign policy crisis,” says state Rep. Tim Baxter. “Our southern border is being flooded by illegal immigrants and our energy independence has evaporated. We are more beholden today to foreign influences because of the American Last policies of Biden and his biggest supporter, Chris Pappas.”