Russian President Vladimir Putin ignored months of repeated warnings and threats of sanctions from President Joe Biden and proceeded with an invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February.
This was not Putin’s first military foray into Ukraine, however, as he had first violated that nation’s sovereignty in 2014, when Biden was vice president, as White House press secretary Jen Psaki reminded everyone this week, Legal Insurrection reported.
In doing so, Psaki explicitly, if inadvertently, made note of the obvious “pattern” here — which is that Putin makes provocative moves against his neighbors when he senses weakness in the White House.
Psaki’s inadvertent admission
It was during an interview on CNN this week in which Psaki made the quip that she likely now wishes she could go back and rephrase or just leave out entirely.
“You know I was at the State Department, the president was the vice president, the last time Russia invaded Ukraine,” Psaki said. “This is a pattern of horror from this presi- — President Putin and from the cronies around him.”
Jen Psaki: Biden “was the vice president the last time Russia invaded Ukraine, this is a pattern” pic.twitter.com/fFwbYLKyRi
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 2, 2022
Putin exploited the weakness of the Obama-Biden administration
Legal Insurrection aptly noted that, as Psaki had referenced, she was the State Department spokeswoman and Biden was vice president to then-President Barack Obama in 2014 when Russia made its moves on Ukraine.
That included the invasion and annexation of Crimea, formerly a Russian territory ceded to Ukraine during the era of the Soviet Union. Shortly after that, Putin “invaded” — by way of unofficial troops and support for separatist insurgents — the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and laid claim to the pro-Russian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.
And in response to those provocative actions? The Obama-Biden administration — recall that Biden was Obama’s top guy on all matters related to Ukraine — did next to nothing, aside from some stern words and relatively weak economic sanctions.
Even some on the left called out Obama-Biden’s weakness toward Russia
It must be noted that this isn’t revisionist history or solely the view of the ideological right, as The Atlantic, a decidedly left-leaning publication, pondered in 2017 whether the Obama administration had been “too soft” on Putin’s Russia and, in effect, invited even more provocative acts from the Russian dictator.
Likewise, in 2018, the left-leaning Brookings Institute insisted that the Obama-Biden administration couldn’t be let off the hook for its “weak and underwhelming response to Russian aggression” and for having “consistently underestimated” Putin himself, with particular regard to Ukraine but also Russia’s intervention in Syria and meddling in other nation’s elections, among other things.
As an interesting aside, that Brookings article — likely reluctantly and through gritted teeth — acknowledged the fact that then-President Donald Trump was, for all of his perceived faults, actually far tougher toward Putin’s Russia than Obama-Biden had been … which may explain why Putin waited until Trump was out of office before moving on Ukraine once a Democrat he perceived as weak had entered office again.