I’ve no idea why Joe Biden is suddenly “going soft” on Russia, says David Kramer in The Bulwark. In March he called Vladimir Putin a “killer”, but now we’re waiving sanctions on his demonstrably weaponised Nord Stream 2 pipeline and inviting him to meet our president this month. The US shouldn’t be normalising relations with a regime that “arrests, tortures, and kills” its opponents. Russia has interfered in our elections, hacked our energy networks and backed malign regimes everywhere. Yet in response to “a pattern of abuse and aggression… matched by few others”, Putin is winning astonishing concessions he hasn’t earned.
Biden had better be ready to answer in the affirmative when the inevitable question arises: “Do you still think Putin is a killer?” Any other answer will give Russia’s president unprecedented impunity. He has already poisoned dissident Alexei Navalny, propped up Belarus’s President Lukashenko and sent meddling mercenaries to stir up trouble everywhere from Libya to the Central African Republic. The White House says everyone wins from normalised relations. It wants to focus on China. But while Xi Jinping may pose “a bigger and more long-term strategic challenge to the United States”, Putin poses a more urgent, immediate threat. A Russia “reset” didn’t work for Barack Obama. Going “wobbly” on our new hard line is inviting disaster.
Read the full article here.