Biden becomes personal with attacks on Putin

President Biden escalates the pressure on Vladimir Putin and addresses the Russian leader, his family and his inner circle with words and actions.

The Biden administration has sanctioned Putin himself, his daughters and several of his personal friends and top aides in an attempt to pressure the Russian leader over his country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden has also stepped up his rhetoric with Putin, calling him a war criminal, saying he can not remain in power and most recently described his actions as genocide on Tuesday.

The harsh rhetoric has included some moments without a script – as when Biden during a speech in Warsaw, Poland, spoke for an end to Putin’s power in Russia. The White House was quickly forced to go back to those comments, and Biden, back on American soil days later, said he had not pushed for a change in U.S. policy.

Lately, the harsh talk has again raised eyebrows abroad – and some implicit criticism.

In an interview with the television station France 2, French President Emmanuel Macron refused to use the term “genocide” when referring to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“I will continue to try, as much as I can, to stop this war and rebuild peace. I am not sure that an escalation of rhetoric serves that cause,” Macron said.

Biden has shown few signs of concern over any of his harsh comments, which analysts beyond Macron have at times criticized for potentially putting Putin in a corner.

During a Tuesday speech in Iowa, Biden complained that Americans should not feel the blow on their wallets because “a dictator declares war and commits genocide half the world away.”

It marked for the first time that Biden or a US official publicly referred to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing atrocities as genocide.

Biden later made it clear that the remark was not word of mouth and a reflection of his indignation at Putin’s actions, even though he hinted that the US government had not made a formal decision on genocide.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday that Biden would allow the necessary legal process around a possible genocide, but that he based his comments on new reporting and intelligence on what is going on in Ukraine.

Psaki pointed to the atrocities reported in Bucha, the bombing of a train station in Mariupol that left dozens of civilians dead, and a UN report that there have been at least 4,450 civilian casualties since Russia launched its invasion in the center of February.

“We have also seen, I think from the beginning of this, Kremlin rhetoric and Russian media deny the identity of the Ukrainian people,” Psaki said. “So the president spoke to what we all see, what he feels is clear as day in relation to the atrocities happening on earth.”

Evelyn Farkas, the top defender of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia under the Obama administration, said Biden is likely to receive more information than is public – from Ukraine and US intelligence – leading to some of his loudest comments.

“The president has every right and should use his pulpit to make the assessments he deems politically and geopolitically correct,” she said.

But Biden’s rhetoric has sparked some criticism.

“I am concerned that the comments further reduce the opportunities for diplomacy that may exist,” Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said of the killings’ comments.

“In addition, I fear that this administration, as the last one, is abusing the term genocide – and applying it, for example, to China’s treatment of the Uighurs. ” he said.

Psaki said on Wednesday that the United States would always support peace talks and rejected the idea that Putin would decide not to participate in peace talks “because of some words that came out of the mouth of the US president.”

Farkas argued that there is no downside to Biden’s harsh rhetoric about Putin, noting that the United States needs to help Ukraine defeat Russia militarily to end the war.

“If I were Joe Biden, I would never want to shake Vladimir Putin’s hand again,” she said.

She also said Biden’s criticism of Putin could help unite allies and Americans in support of Ukraine.

In fact, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that more than 8 in 10 Americans believe Putin is a war criminal.

The Kremlin fired back on Wednesday, calling the comment unacceptable and accusing Biden of hypocrisy.

White House officials have blamed Putin for rising gas prices in the domestic market, claiming that the Russian leader is responsible for instability in the oil markets and consequent cost increases.

And the administration has sanctioned not only Putin, but those closest to him. The administration announced last week that it would freeze assets for two of Putin’s adult daughters, Maria Putina and Katerina Tikhonova.

Previous sanctions have targeted Russian oligarchs and Kremlin officials, who are allies and members of Putin’s inner circle, as the United States seeks to increase pressure on him directly and turn public opinion against him among Russia’s elite.

As another potential blow to Putin personally, Ukraine on Tuesday announced the capture of Viktor Medvedchuk, a close ally and friend of Putin, and posted a picture of him where he looked shabby. Medvedchuk previously led a pro-Moscow political movement in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with whom Biden spoke on Tuesday, praised the American statement that Russian attacks were “genocide” and said it was proof of genuine leadership.

White House officials have called off a change of regime or ending the conflict by removing Putin from power, distancing himself from Senator Lindsey Graham’s (RS.C.) proposal that Putin be assassinated and arguing that Biden’s comments in Poland came from a place of moral scandal.

Instead, its focus has been on punishing Putin and making Russia a global pariah.

“I do not want an exit ramp for Vladimir Putin. I do not think that is our concern,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told NBC’s Chuck Todd this week. “Our concern is to punish Russian aggression and defend the Ukrainians. the right to have the kind of future they deserve. “

Leave a Comment