Critics Feel Biden Empowered Russia By Suggesting What He Wouldn’t Do

President Biden dismisses criticism he constrained his alternatives to Ukraine and Russia, but people remain skeptical.

According to the Associated Press-NORC poll, Biden has not “done enough on Russian President Vladimir Putin,” while 36% thought his attitude was “about right.”

Republicans were less inclined to approve of strong US involvement in Ukraine, but 68 percent said Biden could do more. Among Democrats, 43 percent believed Biden had achieved “the proper balance.”

Analysis and Views

According to Brookings Institution senior scholar Daniel Sullivan, the administration’s efforts to undercut Putin’s attempts build a “pretext” for his attack via presenting Ukraine and NATO as aggressors.

After previous President Obama’s “red line” fiasco with Syria in 2013, Cato Institute Defense Policy Studies Director Eric Gomez praised Biden’s choice.

As per Ivana Stradner, a Center for Defense of Democracies advisor, Putin would have guessed Biden’s opinion based on his campaign rhetoric.

“I’m more frightened about other things,” she remarked, of the potential of nuclear, biochemical, and cyber assaults.

“It’s a one-off. He already feels like a cornered and enraged wild animal,” Stradner said of Putin’s concern for “regime survival.”

“Who cares if they say he lost 15,000 troops? We’re dealing with a regime where domestic audience costs are nonexistent. He feels he owes his people nothing,” she said.

According to Sullivan, if Putin used a nuclear or biochemical weapon in Ukraine, he may have deployed mustard gas on the battleground or Novichok nerve agent poisonings.

Sullivan believes the US must keep giving intelligence to Ukraine to prevent Putin from controlling its airspace.

It was “a distraction” because of Ukraine’s success with SAMs, anti-armor and cruise missiles, and UAVs. Despite their Soviet roots, Ukrainians would have needed training for Poland’s MiG-29 jets.

While Stradner supports more intelligence and deadly weapon sharing with Ukraine, she prefers more fair contributions from NATO allies like France and Germany.

“Sanctions Never Work”

Gomez highlighted polls that showed individuals who first backed a no-fly zone later distanced themselves from it when asked if they would support aerial combat between NATO and Russia.

In addition, he said the US is trying to figure out how to help Ukraine while keeping the crisis under control and making sure it doesn’t get worse.

People asked Biden if stating his wish to prevent a third world war, especially excluding military participation, “emboldened” Putin, knowing the US is hesitant “to become directly engaged.”

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Biden also disputed whether additional penalties imposed by him and his partners would affect Putin’s calculation, given their failure so far. They were also accused of not acting when Putin initially sent assets to the Ukrainian border.

Biden’s dilemma, at least publicly, may be his limited ability to influence Putin. In exchange for less economic pressure, Biden and his aides may have quietly suggested things Russian colleagues could do, or Putin may not be willing to make a deal.

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