The chickens of weakness are coming home to roost today.
Just like with Afghanistan, where Joe Biden had months to deal with the situation and left it a shambles, now, even though he's been warning about action in Ukraine, he's done nothing to discourage Vladimir Putin from taking the action he's taking today, repeatedly refusing to take any real pre-emptive sanctions with teeth against Russia, despite Ukraine begging him to do so.
The Putin recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk — that is an effort to place a thin legal veil over the further invasion, which reportedly is right now underway. That means Putin had finally pulled the trigger.
But even faced with what he had been talking about now for months, how did the Biden Administration respond?
They announced that they would be imposing sanctions — not on Putin, mind you, but on Ukraine — not allowing Americans to invest in the two areas that Putin would like to grab.
President Joe Biden plans to impose new sanctions on trade and financing in the two territories in response to Putin's moves, the White House said Monday. In a statement, the White House said Biden would sign an executive order that would “prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine.”
Exactly how do they think that would back Putin off? Just like with Biden's “minor incursion” remark, this was another greenlight and Putin isn't waiting to take advantage of it, they're going in tonight.
Even CNN wasn't buying that these sanctions meant squat.
Still, the sanctions announced by the White House targeting the specific regions were far from the devastating consequences to Russia that Biden and US officials have warned would be imposed if Russia invades, a sign that the more sweeping measures are being kept in the event that Moscow moves forward with military action to invade Ukrainian territory.
Exactly why should Putin care about Biden's piddly sanctions? He doesn't. He wouldn't care unless you make him personally hurt. But that should have been done long ago. The sanctions on Nord Stream 2 should never have been waived. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that Putin would be making more moves on Ukraine. He's made moves against the other republics now for years since the Soviet Union broke apart.
Yet, even now, you had the “minor incursion” crew rearing their head in the Biden Administration, that moving into Donetsk and Luhansk shouldn't trigger a big rush to more sanctions. This was the signal that Biden had given Putin that moving in was a-ok and wouldn't get a big reaction. Here we are now.
NEW: In a conference call with reporters on responding to Putin, and what comes next, a senior admin official suggested that Russian troops in Donetsk/Luhansk *alone* may *not* warrant the "swift and severe" sanctions the admin has been previewing.— Ali Rogin (@AliRogin) February 21, 2022
Putin didn't even have to make up a truly new decree, just repurpose the old one from his effort to take over Georgia.
Georgia – 2008/ Ukraine – 2022. Putin did not even have to write a new decree. pic.twitter.com/MGnroOo4Ta— Alona Shkrum (@Aly_shkrum) February 21, 2022
It's also like a re-run of Barack Obama's 2014 failure of approach as to Crimea.
Putin hasn't been shy about wanting to reconstitute and grab back the territory that was the Soviet Union. His declaration today — while a revelation to some perhaps — was to anyone who has been following just another confirmation of that fact. It's also a recognition that he isn't going to stop with Donetsk and Luhansk, just like he didn't with Crimea or his other power grabs. He's going to take whatever he thinks he can get back. And Joe Biden has once again given the signal come on in, the water is fine.