Since almost a month, the Biden administration insists that a Russian invasion in Ukraine is inevitable. That projection was re-upped on Friday when the president held a presser in which he asserted that Vladimir Putin had already made the decision to launch an attack and that it would happen in the “coming days.”
The date of the supposed invasion of Ukraine has changed several times now, showing the limits of foreign intelligence and raising questions about what exactly the administration’s strategy is. What is to be gained by continually trying to publicly “predict” when Putin will make his move? Biden, his associates and others have been so wrong in the past month, that they just seem like guesses.
To this point, I’ve assumed that the goal, naive as it may be, was to place Putin in the position of proving the United States right if he invades. The thought behind such a strategy would be to challenge the Russian leader’s ego, so that he’d choose to not invade just to be able to claim the West overreacted.
To be clear, that’s a really dumb strategy with little chance of success, but as it turns out, Biden’s actual strategy is even worse than originally thought. Instead of playing mind games with Putin to deter an invasion, according to Biden, the monthlong predictions of a coming invasion are simply meant to…assign blame?
We’re calling out Russia’s plans. We are not calling for a conflict. However, we will do everything we can to eliminate any excuse Russia might give to invade Ukraine.
Russia will pursue its goals and cause a needless, catastrophic war.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 19, 2022
Do you really believe the president cares that Russia will be blamed in starting the war in Ukraine. All know Russia is the cause of the current crisis. Putin’s calculations are far more important than what France or Denmark believe. This is akin to the administration releasing sternly worded letters to the Taliban warning them they’ll be ostracized from the international community if they don’t stop terrorizing people. The Taliban would care nothing about this.
Here, I thought maybe, just maybe, Biden might have some actual plan working behind the scenes, but as it turns out, he’s just practicing more hashtag diplomacy. Putin’s despotism is not deterred only by Western countries waving their fingers. It certainly didn’t deter him when he invaded Georgia in 2008 or when he moved into Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014. This is absurd to believe that such an action would be successful today when NATO and the United States have weakened even further.
But don’t take my word for it, though. Do you know who else thinks Biden’s strategy makes absolutely no sense? Ukrainians. The country Russia threatens to invade, you know.
President Zelensky reiterates that Ukraine has asked the West if you are sure will invade “within days” you should sanction them now – “it won’t help once they are there” @MunSecConf
— Hadley Gamble (@_HadleyGamble) February 19, 2022
Zalensky’s critique is spot on. Biden said that Russia’s invasion was a certainty. Why aren’t sanctions being imposed on the West now? What good is it going to do to sanction Russia once they’ve seized the oil-producing regions in the north and started the march toward Kyiv? Putin will not back down from threats of financial hardship.
The time to use the leverage the West has over Russia is before thousands of people die, not after it’s too late to matter. Biden’s feckless strategy of just virtue signaling about blame only makes an invasion more likely because it signals to Putin that the United States is weak and unwilling to take real action. Ukraine’s leadership is smart enough to see that. Why isn’t Joe Biden?