Republicans target Biden on blaming Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine did not halt partisan bickering in the U.S. Congress on Thursday, as some Republicans blasted Democratic President Joe Biden’s handling of the crisis and the called for “a change of course” in his response.

Some Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives have faulted Biden for failing to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from sending forces to Ukraine and called on the US president to take a tougher stance on Europe’s biggest conflict. since World War II.

“There is no question that weakness leads to war,” Rep. Brian Mast, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a tweet Thursday morning. “Putin once said that the collapse of the Soviet empire was the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe’ of the last century for Russia. For America, President Biden could be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of this century.”

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The invasion of Ukraine followed months of Russian military buildup along the country’s borders, resulting in frantic diplomacy and sanctions from the United States and NATO that failed to prevent the ‘incursion. Biden is planning an address to the nation at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT).

The criticisms represented a further fraying of the saying that partisan politics should stop at the water’s edge, a view Republicans expressed at the start of the Cold War in the late 1940s.

“Before, there was a grace period to see how the commander-in-chief handled things. … It seems like Biden didn’t have a lot of wiggle room,” a former chief of staff told an interview. Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A more moderate message came from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who called Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan a signal of US weakness for Putin. But he also called for political unity moving forward. “We’re all together at this point, and we have to be together on what needs to be done,” said McConnell, who urged Biden to impose comprehensive and crippling economic sanctions on Russia and stand ready to provide the Ukraine the weapons needed to inflict maximum damage on Russian forces.


Other Republicans maintained the political attack on Biden.

U.S. President Joe Biden provides an update on Russia and Ukraine during remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Almost 12 hours since Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine and the only response we’ve had from Biden is a Zoom call. Where’s Biden? He’s the leader of the free world. It’s time to start to act as such,” Rep. Carlos Gimenez wrote. on Twitter.

Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as the invasion began late Wednesday, convened his National Security Council on Thursday and met with his counterparts from Group of Seven allies to hammer out tougher responses. Read more

“The president must change course or our posture of deterrence will continue to crumble, chaos will continue to spread, and ultimately no one will trust America’s promises or fear America’s might,” the President said. Representative Mike Gallagher, member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Former President Donald Trump – who even out of power remains the Republican Party’s strongest voice – had threatened during his four years in office to quit NATO, calling the military alliance “obsolete”. He withdrew the United States from international agreements – including the Paris climate accord, which it has since rejoined – and withdrew from a pact in which Iran had curbed its enrichment program. uranium, a possible route to nuclear weapons, which is now being renegotiated.

Trump, who has expressed admiration for Putin, described the Russian leader’s actions leading up to the invasion as “brilliant”, “clever” and “pretty shrewd”.

The response from Republicans in Congress – blaming Biden, calling for tougher sanctions and warning against any use of US troops in Ukraine – largely reflected the sentiments of Republican voters, as lawmakers approach the midterm elections of the November 8 which will determine the balance of powers. in Congress ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, only 34% of Americans — including just 12% of Republicans — approved of Biden’s handling of the crisis in the run-up to the invasion.

Twenty-five percent of Republicans polled said Biden was primarily to blame for the dispute, with 46% saying Putin was primarily to blame. Almost one in five did not know who to blame. Read more

Senator Mitt Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a moderate voice for his party, issued broader criticism that also blamed US responses to Russia by former Presidents Barack Obama and Trump while evoking the tough stance of the Reagan era against the former Soviet Union.

“Putin’s impunity predictably follows our lukewarm response to his previous horrors in Georgia and Crimea, our naive efforts for a unilateral ‘reset,’ and the short-sightedness of ‘America First’. The 80s called and we have not responded,” Romney said in a statement.

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Reporting by David Morgan, additional reporting by Jason Lange and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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