Approaching World War III? Biden appears weak as Russia moves closer to Ukraine invasion

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UKRAINE – As war bells toll in Europe amid Russian aggression toward Ukraine, President Biden seems ill-equipped to deal with the threat, and may have personal reasons to allow the situation to boil over.

Russia appears to be moving toward an imminent invasion of Ukraine as talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden collapsed earlier this year. A group of six Russian warships and amphibious vessels have entered the English Channel.

Experts expect the vessels to continue to the Black Sea to participate in an invasion of Ukraine. The vessels comprise the Project 775 Ropucha class amphibious warfare ships Olenegorskiy Gornyak and Georgiy Pobedonosets, as well as the Project 11711 Ivan Gren class landing ship Pyotr Morgunov, from the Northern Fleet, plus three other Ropuchas, the Korolev, Minsk, and Kaliningrad, from the Baltic Fleet.

The ship movements added power to Moscow’s buildup of troops and equipment around its land borders with the former Soviet Republic. Several NATO countries, including France, sent ships to monitor the movements of the Russian fleet.

Russia started massing troops and military equipment along its border with Ukraine in March 2021. By December 2021, more than 100,000 Russian troops were lined along the border. U.S. and NATO countries have rejected the demands.

Russia and the U.S. held bi-lateral talks in January but failed to lead to any agreements or resolutions.

Approaching World War III? Biden appears weak as Russia moves closer to Ukraine invasion

The  Russian foreign ministry announced several demands in December 2021, including a prohibition on Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a decrease of NATO soldiers and military equipment in Eastern Europe in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian armed forces.

Russia, who annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 with relative impunity while Joe Biden was Vice President in the Obama administration, has not backed down to threats of war if NATO refuses to end security agreements in Eastern Europe.

Abigail Post, Assistant Professor of Political Science and National Security at Anderson University in Indiana, wrote in an article for The Rand Blog in December:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has not backed down from his threat of war if NATO doesn’t agree to end security cooperation with Ukraine and halt expansion into other former Soviet republics.

“Putin maintains that Russians and Ukrainians are ‘one people’ bound by ‘spiritual, human, and civilizational ties. This moral imperative underscores Putin’s ‘duty’ to reunite Ukraine and Russia.”

On January 2, President Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by phone to reaffirm support for the country amid the Russian threats.

Biden told Zelenskyy that the U.S. and its allies and partners will “respond decisively” if Russia invades, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement:

“Biden underscored the commitment of the United States and its allies and partners to the principle of ‘nothing about you without you, He also expressed support for confidence-building measures to de-escalate tensions in Donbas and active diplomacy to advance the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, in support of the Normandy Format.”

A week earlier, he spoke with Putin in a telephone call, where he pressed the Russian President to de-escalate tensions.

Despite words of reassurance to Ukraine, however, President Biden appears unable or unwilling to draw a line in the sand with the Russian Federation.

In late January, President Biden predicted Russia would invade Ukraine, but suggested there was a split among NATO members about how to respond if Moscow took action that stopped short of sending its troops across the border.

During a two-hour news conference on Wednesday, the President angered officials in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv when he called a Russian invasion a “minor incursion.

Many U.S. lawmakers and foreign leaders expressed disbelief in the President’s words, which they believe have emboldened the Russians to move ahead with invasion plans.

The president said:

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do…

“But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing… it is going to be a disaster for Russia, if they invade Ukraine.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) placed the blame for Russian aggression at the President’s feet:

”It is a result of a year of Joe Biden’s impotence and incompetence towards Russia in particular and in foreign policy more generally.”

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He pointed to decisions President Biden has made, like when he was allegedly “looking the other way at the Colonial Pipeline hack.”

The White House spent much of Thursday trying to clean up the comment. Biden told reporters that his comments were not a show of weakness:

“(I was) absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any — any — assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion … It would be met with severe and coordinated economic response.”

His words did little to calm the nerves of Ukrainian President Zelesnkyy, who said any incursion into Ukraine is serious:

“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that a “minor incursion” is like being “half-aggressive,” an illogical distinction.

President Biden also took military force off the table, leaving negotiators in a weakened position. On Wednesday, the President said the consequences for a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “severe economic consequence”:

“You will see that there’ll be severe economic consequences. For example, anything that involves dollar denominations. If they invade, they’re going to pay. Their banks will not be able to deal in dollars.”

Elina Ribakoba, deputy chief economist at the Institute for International Finance, said that Russia had already taken steps to try and defuse any economic threat tied to the U.S. dollar:

“Russia has diversified its reserves away from the U.S. Dollar, U.S. Treasuries and U.S.-based institutions. However, diversifying settlement for trade takes time, including energy sales to the EU.”

The President’s weak comments toward the invasion, coupled with his questionable threats of sanctions, has had negligible effect on the growing crisis. Some have questioned whether the President wants to stop the invasion.

JD Washington, writing for conservative news and opinion website Liberty Loft, questioned President Biden’s motives:

“Perhaps Biden is willing to let this happen so there is no evidence of his quid pro quo actions and his family’s profits in Ukraine once it’s over. After all,  they seem to make millions in backroom deals that profit from Biden’s political office and hide them.

“Rather than being a voice of reason with our European allies, we are again taking the back seat in leadership. We do not have to send our military to take care of the issue. We can encourage Europe to handle it.”

During the 2020 election campaign, President Biden and his son, Hunter, were frequently accused by then President Donald Trump and his associates of wrongdoing in regard to China and Ukraine, allegations which they both denied.

The New York Post reported on an alleged email in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, apparently thanked Hunter for inviting him to meet his father, Joe Biden. Allegations that Hunter traded political favors for a lucrative position on the board of Burisma, one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, began to swirl.

There are also accusations and suspicions that President Biden participated in questionable financial dealings in Ukraine. JD Washington wrote that the ties between the President and Ukraine raise further concerns over the President’s motivation to stop Russia:

“That raises a lot of questions regarding Hunter Biden and Joe Biden in relation to Burisma. Do the Biden’s still have an interest in natural gas in Ukraine? They have already made millions from it and who knows where their Burisma friends are now in the situation.

“We know that Europe needs natural gas and Russia is the largest supplier. Ukraine controls one of the largest pipelines into Europe for natural resources. Perhaps we need to take a closer look at Hunter’s laptop to find out more about what is going on.”

Meanwhile, the State Department issued an order Saturday directing families of U.S. Embassy personnel in Ukraine to evacuate the country as soon as Monday. Russia did the same on January 5.

 

 

 

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