Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Russian Aggression a Challenge for Biden

Seven years after Russia, under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, seized the Crimea (Feb. 27, 2014), the Biden White House issued a statement defining U.S. policy adopted in concert with European allies that:

“The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts.”

The Crimea annexation and Ukraine attack was part of an exceptionally low point in the Barack Obama presidency. The failure to take action over Labor Day in 2013 related to Syria’s use of chemical weapons was generally judged a strategic failure and American intelligence and diplomats appeared unprepared for the Ukraine crisis. Secretary of State Kerry misjudged Russian intentions, repeatedly offering an off-ramp to Foreign Minister Lavrov, who was looking for the fast lane. ISIS was also beginning to form in Syria and parts of Iraq that would draw the U.S. back in after the 2011 withdrawal of forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center; Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu,
left; and the commander of the Western Military District Anatoly
Sidorov, right, March 3, 2014 | Photo: AP

Russian aggression against democracy has accelerated since then with election interference where possible and frequent hacks of national security infrastructure. Also, it’s clear the Putin and United Russia model of authoritarian leadership is not going away as opponents and demonstrators are swept away and locked up when possible.

President Biden and Secretary Blinken should be ready for more Russian challenges to the West and specifically the U.S.

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