As I contended here, when it came to Russia, Donald Trump spoke softly but carried a stick. He didn’t attack Vladimir Putin personally, but he punished Russian misconduct to some extent and took meaningful measures to thwart Russian expansionism.
So far, Joe Biden has adopted the opposite approach. He calls Putin “a killer,” but does not meaningfully punish Russia, even as it amasses large forces on the border of Ukraine. Instead, Biden is returning, in large measure, to the failed “Russia reset” policy of Barack Obama.
Picking up on the stick analogy, the Republican National Committee finds that, on Russia, “Biden speaks loudly and carries a twig.” That’s about right.
In a memo, the RNC points out:
Yesterday, the Biden administration announced a sanctions package on Russia in response to the Solar Winds attack. It falls well short of imposing real costs on Russia. President Biden even invited Putin to a summit to “de-escalate” tensions while Putin conducted the largest military build-up on the border of Ukraine since 2014. Biden has exhibited clear weaknesses and Putin will seek to exploit them.
The memo goes on to cite chapter and verse on the weakness of Biden’s approach to Russia. The entire document is well worth reading. Here are a few key excerpts (footnotes omitted):
* President Biden began his administration by caving to Russian demands to renew the New START treaty for 5 years, giving up the leverage built by the Trump administration to limit Russia’s entire nuclear force, and compel Russia to limit other weapons, including hypersonics. As former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated, under New START “[o]nly 45 percent of Russia’s nuclear arsenal is subject to numerical limits…[while] that agreement restricts 92 percent of America’s arsenal.”
* President Biden has refused to impose any sanctions on any new entities over Nordstream 2, circumventing the intent of Congress in recent bipartisan mandatory sanctions legislation, the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act, enacted as part of the NDAA. President Biden’s refusal to impose such sanctions before the pipeline is set to be completed this summer will isolate Ukraine and give Putin a new economic lifeline in Europe, which Putin could use to fund even more destabilizing activities.
* The Biden administration has sat idly by as Russia has mobilized thousands of troops on the border of Ukraine—more than there were ahead of Russia’s invasion and eventual annexation of Crimea in 2014. Even worse, just yesterday the Biden administration canceled the deployment of two warships to the Black Sea with Turkey amid concerns over a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders. During the Trump administration, the U.S. provided anti-tank weapons to Ukraine and tripled the size of the European Deterrence Initiative to counter Russia, and Putin never attempted such a buildup.
What about the sanctions Biden has just imposed on Russia?
* The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has advocated for imposing sanctions on Russian sovereign debt since June 2020 when it released it National Security Strategy: Strengthening America & Countering Global Threats. However, the sanctions imposed today by the Department of the Treasury on Russian sovereign debt include a number of exceptions that lack real teeth. OFAC has announced that such sanctions will continue to apply only to those “participating in the primary market” and will not restrict the buying of Russian Eurobonds on the secondary market.
* Furthermore, President Biden’s decision to again forego sanctions on new entities involved in the Nordstream 2 project, illustrates that while talking tough the Biden administration intends to return to
the risk-averse approach that characterized President Obama’s Russia reset policy., Biden claimed Nordstream 2 is “a complicated issue affecting our allies in Europe.” It’s not complicated, Biden simply does not want to stand up to Russia.
The memo also documents the Trump’s administration’s consistently tough approach to Russia, even as Democrats and their media allies were trying to paint Trump as beholden to, and conspiring with, Putin. Democrats wasted millions in taxpayer dollars promoting that narrative for no reason other than to undermine the president.
The Russia collusion canard might be the biggest lie in American political history. Its falsity was always apparent to anyone paying attention. The weakness of Biden’s Russia policy as compared to Trump’s only confirms the blatant dishonesty of Democrats and the media.