Biden Confronts Putin Signaling End Of Trump Appeasement Era

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As concerns continue to circulate about the Russian military build-up along the border with Ukraine, President Joe Biden has once again directly spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to whom the U.S. president raised the prospect of retaliatory action against Russia by the U.S. and its allies in the event of a further escalation, rather than de-escalation, of tensions. As explained by Biden press secretary Jen Psaki, Biden “urged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine” and “made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.”

This stance stands in stark contrast to the approach that Donald Trump took while in office against Russian aggression. Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, leading to the country’s removal from the G8 group of world leaders (which subsequently became the G7)… and Trump called for Putin to rejoin the group. Separately, Trump also repeatedly downplayed the very real threats of Russian aggression, including in the form of their meddling in U.S. elections.

According to Psaki, Biden “also expressed support for diplomacy, starting early next year with the bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue, at NATO through the NATO-Russia Council, and at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” although he “reiterated that substantive progress in these dialogues can occur only in an environment of de-escalation rather than escalation.” Just recently, Trump himself reiterated the fact that he felt as though he got along with leaders like Putin, saying at an event in Florida alongside ex-Fox host Bill O’Reilly that the “ones I did the best with were the tyrants… For whatever reason, I got along great with them… Isn’t that better than having a nuclear war?” The options, though, aren’t just capitulating to the interests of dictators or having a nuclear war.

According to a senior administration official, the latest conversation between Biden and Putin took place at the request of the Russian government. That official also explained some of the exact outlines of actions that the U.S. authorities are prepared to take in the event of further escalations by Russia, including “economic costs… adjustments and augmentations of NATO force posture in Allied countries, and… additional assistance to Ukraine to enable it to further defend itself and its territory, as we’ve laid out previously.”