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Joe Biden, Not Donald Trump, Is “Soft on Russia”

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

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Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency and even since he has departed the White House, the mainstream media and elected Democrats have falsely insisted that Trump is in league with Vladimir Putin and even a “Russian agent,” pushing outrageous conspiracy theories about the former president’s supposed ties to the Kremlin. Now, the full absurdity of those claims has been laid bare as Putin’s army has swept into Ukraine on Joe Biden’s watch, while it was Donald Trump who held the Russian leader at bay for four years.

Since Putin’s rise to power in early 2000, every American president has sought to forge a unique relationship with the controversial leader. The first significant breakdown in relations between the two countries came when Russia refused to support President Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. As things continued to go downhill, in 2008 Bush vowed to admit Ukraine and Georgia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which would have effectively put Russia’s top geopolitical rival right on their doorstep. That same year, Russia invaded Georgia and annexed much of the country to Russian-backed states.

When President Barack Obama assumed office, he and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a high-profile and public Russian “Reset” campaign to create a “fresh start” between the countries that was doomed from the very beginning. In one particularly embarrassing incident, in 2009 Clinton brought a literal button that was supposed to say “reset” in Russian to a meeting with her Russian peer, Sergey Lavrov. In Russian, however, the button actually said “overcharged” and inadvertently came to signify the rocky relationship that followed.

Throughout the rest of the Obama administration, Russian-American relations continued to deteriorate. Russia providing asylum to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the intervention of Russian forces in the Syrian Civil war were all viewed as aggressions by Putin against the West, but were met with little pushback from President Obama. After Putin’s invasion of Crimea, Obama pledged that Russia would become a pariah on the international stage. But in the wake of paltry sanctions, Putin emerged unscathed. By the time Obama left office, Putin was more powerful and emboldened than ever.

When Trump assumed office following the 2016 election, he did so when Russian-American relations were at their lowest point since 2001. Trump’s approach to dealing with Russia was reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Most of his public statements were geared toward improving relations between the two countries, recognizing that the U.S. needed to turn its attention toward China, America’s true global competitor. Trump also recognized that what Putin really desired was the ability to project strength to his people in order to maintain his hold on power. So, Trump was willing to put up a public front in exchange for Putin halting his territorial ambitions.

However, Trump’s policies and actions toward Russia remained focused on keeping Putin and his expansionist aims in check. As Daniel Vajdich, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, put it in 2018, “when you actually look at the substance of what this administration has done, not the rhetoric but the substance, this administration has been much tougher on Russia than any in the post-Cold War era.”

Even some mainstream media voices were won over by Trump’s approach to Russia. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said that “the Trump administration was pretty tough on the Russians. They armed Ukraine. They armed the Poles. They extended NATO operations and exercises in ways that even the Obama administration had not done.” After four years of breathless insistence that Trump would either start a nuclear war or oversee the re-establishment of the Soviet Union, Putin had not attempted any military excursions beyond his own borders, and appeared wary of crossing President Trump – suggesting that the dynamic was not one of Trump being a stooge of Putin, but rather Putin being outmaneuvered by Trump.

With the election of Joe Biden, however, that all changed. Though many Democrats privately hoped Biden would continue Trump’s approach to Russia, Biden appeared to be out of his depth in dealing with Putin.

Biden’s actions emboldened Putin and opened the door for Russia to invade Ukraine. Seeing the disastrous U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, Putin undoubtedly believed that Biden was weak and ineffective as commander-in-chief. As former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker stated in a recent interview about Afghanistan, “Everybody in the world saw, including Putin, and he thought, OK, the United States is no longer committed to exercising power in the world the way it used to be, and that this situation may not last forever.”

In contrast, Trump’s decisions to give American servicemembers greater leeway to engage with Russian-backed forces in Syria, drop the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) in Afghanistan, and the elimination of Qasem Solemani likely gave Putin pause. In total, by December 2019, the Trump administration had taken 52 separate actions directly against Russia, making clear that Trump was not afraid to use the full might of the American military to defend U.S. national interests.

Biden’s complete abandonment of American energy independence also likely played a role in Putin’s decision to invade when he did. While the economic sanctions against Russia have been devastating to their economy, the nation still has one critical point of leverage. As the nations of Europe have abandoned their own coal and oil energy facilities in favor of renewable ones, they have become increasingly reliant on Russian fuel imports to meet their needs. Should, God forbid, the invasion of Ukraine ultimately succeed, Russia would likely use this leverage to “ride out” the worst of the sanctions just as Putin did following his 2014 invasion of Crimea.

If oil production were still at Trump-era levels, the price of energy would be much lower, thereby greatly reducing Russian energy profits and its ability to withstand sanctions. As it stands, Germany is still importing Russian oil and gas, and other countries have been reluctant to join the most stringent sanctions.

The failure of the west to effectively oppose Putin’s invasion speaks to a broader failure to define the strategic goals of NATO following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Each American president came into office looking for a “reset” with Putin. The Russian leader, in turn, manipulated this goodwill to his advantage. While Democrats continue to pillory Trump for his rhetoric toward Putin, one fact is irrefutable: Trump is the only President of this century on whose watch Putin did not invade a sovereign nation.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.


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Patriot Will
3 months ago

By now, anyone knows, who wants to know, that Biden does not lead. He only follows and reacts. He does his best to not openly challenge Putin, and Putin knows that Biden is weak and incompetent. President Trump was not only strong, he also was very explicit with Putin that Putin would regret the day he was born if he stepped out of line. Putin was intimidated by President Trump. On the other hand, Putin is taking advantage of Biden’s lack of courage and resolve.

Smili'in Jack
3 months ago

I have not bought a local newspaper in at least 10 years. They are full of leftist propaganda and boo- hoo stories about minorities and especially blacks. I sometime look over the neighbor’s papers she brings over which we take to the local cat rescue, and they use them to line the cat cages to collect the poop and that is their best and highest use.I quit buying them when they went to 75 cents for the daily. They now cost almost $3.00 at the news stand and are nothing but fake news and advertisements. I don’t miss them a bit, yesterday’s news anyway.

Red Valley
3 months ago

And who sold a significant portion of our valuable uranium to the russians in exchange for a huge “donation” to the Clinton Foundation? Another prime example of Clinton/Obama corruption!

CoNMTX
3 months ago

Loopy Joe is soft on Russia, soft on China, and soft in the head. After all, China owns the entire Biden family so Joe will bow to Xi any time Xi wants. China tells Hunter to jump and Hunter asks, “How high, sir”? Of course, Hunter like good ole’ dad, has zero character, morals, integrity, or honesty. Money and power are their gods.

anna hubert
3 months ago
Reply to  CoNMTX

was Obama not whispering into Medvedev’s ear,was Hilary not playing with the button Bdcen is only continuing what begun before him

Barb
3 months ago
Reply to  CoNMTX

In addition to Hunter jumping, it’s because the next BBB (Build Back Biden’s Bank Account Better) money is soon to hit the Biden family’s bank account. How else do you think Joey is able to build a millions of dollars beach home in Delaware? Surely not on the salary of a Senator. Or a Vice President.

Hal
3 months ago
Reply to  CoNMTX

Yep, the state of Delunaware is so wrapped up in Biden worship for so many years, I guess the Delunaware State Constitution has provisions to enrich the Bidens as a primary law????

John L. Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  CoNMTX

Joe Biden, bought and paid for by China!

James Thompson
3 months ago

When Trump was in office we were strong ,safe and had money in our pockets. Strike three Joe…………..

Smili'in Jack
3 months ago

The insertion of Joe Biden as CinC of America’s armed forces was in itself an open invitation to all enemy nations and especially Russia to commence any attack on us at any time and not to worry too much about retaliation. We are now in a stormy sea without a rudder and headed for the rocks.

CoNMTX
3 months ago
Reply to  Smili'in Jack

Someone once said, Loopy Joe as president is like “Running to the bridge of a sinking Titanic and finding out the captain is Daffy Duck.”

Rick
3 months ago
Reply to  CoNMTX

While My heart aches for the Ukrainian people and NATO should help in every way! That does not mean that the US has to give the most. Joey is giving UKRAIN another billion $$. Where is that money coming from? His policies are going to throw us in a recession! WHY are you allowing an open southern border Mr Biden? On top of the money you are throwing at UKRAIN we are having to feed, house, educate, and provide medical needs for over 2,000,000 people Mr President! That will also cost billions Joey! However, in spite of all of this I pray for you Mr President. I pray that you will respect the position afforded you and start working for the people of the United States of America who hired you to do the job you ran on.

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