A little while ago, Joe Biden delivered a statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and then took some questions from reporters. Altogether the appearance lasted 24 minutes; it is embedded below. Here are some observations:
* As usual, Biden read haltingly from a teleprompter. He was even weaker when trying to respond to questions. And his frequent and inappropriate grins were disconcerting. It is hard to escape the assumption that Biden’s patent weakness as a leader was part of Vladimir Putin’s calculation when he chose to invade.
* Biden emphasized the severity of the sanctions that we and other nations are imposing, while admitting that the prospect of sanctions did not deter Russia’s aggression. At the same time, it appears that some sanctions have not been imposed, such as anything directed specifically against Putin, or involving the international SWIFT banking system. While this was not clear, Biden gave the impression that there may not have been full international backing for such additional sanctions.
* Biden made clear that there will be no U.S. or NATO military response to the invasion. Despite his seemingly aggressive talk, the Ukrainians are on their own.
* Biden drew a clear distinction between Ukraine, which we will not defend militarily, and all NATO states. He said the “U.S. will defend every inch of NATO territory.” This includes the Baltics. Will we really go to war over Estonia, if Putin chooses the Baltics for his next target? And will the nations of Western Europe be willing to go to war over Estonia? We may soon find out.
* He expressed great concern about rising gas prices and called on American oil companies not to raise prices for the sake of increasing profits. Good luck with that. Gas and oil are international commodities that respond to market conditions. Prices will rise, and releasing a little more from our strategic reserve, or other countries’ reserves, will have little if any impact.
* Finally, Biden went on at length about how badly international sanctions will damage Russia’s economy. But he never mentioned the one step we can take that would most impact Russia while at the same time benefiting Americans: a rapid increase in our own oil and gas production. Biden claims to care deeply about freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe, but apparently he cares a lot more about the “green” lobby and its contributions to the Democratic Party.
Here is the video: