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US politics

Hats off to Joe Biden

Joe Biden meeting Vladimir Putin in Geneva last year. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

“Vladimir Putin is doing Joe Biden a favour,” says Paolo Garimberti in la Repubblica. Before Russia threatened to invade Ukraine, the American president’s approval ratings were a disaster. But as Putin has become more aggressive, previously hesitant countries in the West have been forced to take sides – even us “reluctant” Italians. Everyone is now following America. And Biden’s stance on Ukraine has strong support among Democrats and even some Republicans.

It’s not that surprising. Unlike Barack Obama – who was “silent to the point of appearing acquiescent when Russia swallowed Crimea” – Biden came of age politically during the Cold War. What’s happening in Ukraine “replays old-fashioned Cold War scenarios” – right in Biden’s comfort zone. Consider his tactics so far. The White House has made stacks of Russian information public: plans for a false flag operation, details on troop movements, estimates of a possible death toll, and even doubts from senior Russian officials regarding Putin’s strategy. The New York Times called it “one of the most aggressive releases of intelligence by the United States since the Cuban Missile Crisis”. And judging from Russian reactions, it has “greatly unnerved the Kremlin”. So hats off to Biden. On the international stage his post-Trumpian slogan “America is back” has finally started to mean something.