xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Republican leaders call President Biden ‘weak’ in dealing with Vladimir Putin, but neglect to mention Trump’s defense of Russian leader

Before President Joe Biden’s summit Wednesday with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in an 18th-century villa, Republicans in Congress and conservative media outlets like Fox News have coalesced around a succinct line of attack: Biden is weak when it comes to dealing with the Russian leader.

Some of Biden’s most prominent critics, however, neglect to mention their backing of President Donald Trump as he spent four years seeking to befriend Putin, dismissing Russia’s aggressive behavior and complaining that a “Deep State” and other Washington actors were preventing him from striking deals with Moscow.

Advertisement

On Tuesday, shortly before Biden departed on Air Force One from Brussels for Geneva, where he will meet with Putin for the first time in more than a decade, the website of Fox News published an opinion essay by Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state under Trump, arguing that Biden “shows up with a self-dealt weak hand.”

The idea that Biden is no match for the Russian has been a regular theme on the network’s programming in recent weeks.

Advertisement
Advertisement

On his prime-time program Monday night, Fox host Sean Hannity declared that Putin “will see firsthand how weak Joe is,” adding that “Putin loves a weak America and a weak American president.”

Swiss Federal president Guy Parmelin, right, welcomes US president Joe Biden, second left, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 15, 2021 one day before the US - Russia summit. The meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled in Geneva for Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
Swiss Federal president Guy Parmelin, right, welcomes US president Joe Biden, second left, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, June 15, 2021 one day before the US - Russia summit. The meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled in Geneva for Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Martial Trezzini/AP)

During the Trump years, both men — along with many other prominent conservatives — to varying degrees defended or excused Trump’s approach to Putin, whom U.S. intelligence concluded had ordered a campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

“We are the toughest administration ever on Russia,” Pompeo insisted during Senate testimony in July, citing sanctions that were imposed on Moscow, often with Trump’s grudging approval at best.

In recent weeks, many other Republicans, not all of whom defended Trump’s approach, have charged that Biden has been soft on Russia. Many have cited Biden’s decision last month to waive Congressional sanctions on the Russian company behind the Nord Stream 2 oil and gas pipeline and the company’s German CEO.

Advertisement

Opponents of the pipeline say it gives Putin needed new revenues and dangerous control over Europe’s energy supplies. Biden had opposed the pipeline, but in the end gave in to the arguments of supporters, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who contend that the risks are overblown.

The pipeline, mostly built during the Trump era, was about 95% complete by the time Biden took office, and it was unclear whether he could have stopped it even if he tried. In explaining his decision, Biden said that imposing the sanctions would be “counterproductive in terms of our European relations.”

“We’re rewarding Putin with a summit? Instead of treating Putin like a gangster who fears his own people, we’re giving him his treasured Nord Stream 2 pipeline and legitimizing his actions with a summit,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a May 25 statement. Sasse was a harsh critic of Trump.

But his critique reflected wide sentiment within the Republican Party and among allies of Trump.

“Biden is weak. Putin knows it,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tweeted June 2.

The White House rejects the notion that the meeting with Putin amounts to a concession, and privately officials say the problem with Trump’s meetings with the Russian leader was not that they took place but what they said was Trump’s obsequious approach.

In a briefing this month, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Biden “is never one to hold back on areas where he has concern, areas where he feels the actions of the Russian government or Russian leadership are hurting the United States. And he certainly has no intention of holding back during this meeting, publicly or privately.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

c.2021 The New York Times Company

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement