The National Defense Authorization Act working its way through Congress includes a provision to sanction Russia over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but reports indicate that the Biden administration is pushing to have the sanctions omitted. Given that Russia is challenging the United States across the board—most notably amassing troops at its border with Ukraine—President Biden should look for, not shy away from, opportunities to push back hard.
Biden’s recent predecessors have a mixed record in dealing with the Russia threat. George W. Bush infamously said that he “was able to get a sense” of Vladimir Putin’s soul but recovered in time to help Georgia fend off a Russian invasion in 2008. While Mitt Romney was mocked for calling Russia our top geopolitical foe, the man he lost to in 2012 displayed insufficient backbone in dealing with Putin. As did Donald Trump for the most part.
When Obama sought an ill-defined “reset” with Russia. Moscow responded by invading Ukraine, sending troops to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, shooting down an airliner, launching cyberattacks harming American companies, granting asylum to the traitor Edward Snowden, beating up U.S. diplomats, harassing U.S. ships, and finally interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election against his party’s nominee.
Meanwhile Trump displayed a cringe-worthy infatuation with Putin, most notoriously during their Helsinki summit. Russia repaid the favor by testing dangerous nuclear-powered cruise missiles, ramping up cyberespionage against the U.S., sending mercenaries to Libya, and assassinating defectors and dissidents abroad with chemical weapons. (Although to Trump’s credit, his administration provided Ukraine with lethal aid, however grudgingly, while Obama’s did not, and U.S. forces killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries in Syria when they were attacked during Trump’s term.)