The Washington Post is carrying the water for a Biden admin campaign to counter Ukraine President Zelensky’s constant push for more …..
To counter the growing impression that he’s NOT a tough guy militarily ….
It is a history lesson on Joe Biden and the Ukraine….
Biden’s role as chief Ukraine envoy during Russia’s brazen seizure of Crimea and fomenting of conflict in eastern Ukraine — for which it faced few significant consequences — deeply informs his handling of the current crisis in Ukraine, according to current Biden and former Obama officials. After Obama handed him the Ukraine portfolio, Biden visited the Eastern European nation six times, including three in 2014 alone.
Biden was one of several Obama officials who unsuccessfully argued in favor of sending Javelins to Ukraine. Now, they are among President Biden’s top advisers and include Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs.
As a result of his experience as vice president, Biden sees in Ukraine a “fragile, plucky, still somewhat grubby democracy standing up against the massive, thuggish autocracy,” Nuland said in an interview….
In some ways, Biden’s decision-making on Ukraine is reminiscent of his handling of the Afghanistan conflict earlier in his presidency. As vice president, Biden passionately advocated withdrawing U.S. troops from the so-called forever war, but he was overruled by Obama and his team. Biden then campaigned for president on a promise to bring those troops home, and he did so during his first year in office.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan was chaotic and controversial, and it probably hurt Biden politically. But advisers said it was something Biden had wanted to do for about a decade, and there was no dissuading him….
Biden was especially close with former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, whose inauguration he attended in June 2014 and with whom he had at least 50 calls and meetings. One senior administration official, who also served under Obama and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be more candid, described Biden as “the Ukrainian government whisperer.”
That period also led to missteps — if not by the vice president himself, then by his son.
Hunter Biden joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings while his father was Obama’s point person on Ukraine, which prompted conflict-of-interest allegations and numerous Republican attacks.
But Biden’s policy views were clear. When Russia abruptly seized Crimea in 2014 and instigated a brutal conflict in the country’s east, Biden, a foreign policy veteran, urged a hard-hitting response, which went against Obama’s more cautious instincts….
Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, similarly said Biden “was on the more robust end of options in terms of providing weapons.”
Biden also pushed for the United States to help train the Ukrainian national guard, an effort that was later expanded as U.S. trainers were dispatched to western Ukraine to help strengthen the capabilities of the Ukrainian military…
Not everyone thinks Biden is getting the response right, however. John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said that although Biden’s response to Russia’s provocations “is far better than any previous administration’s, it has generally been characterized by an overly cautious approach.” The administration has “finally decided to provide high-altitude antiaircraft systems and short-range drones,” he noted, but “it still has not provided anti-ship missiles and more sophisticated drones.”
Some Republicans argue, too, that Biden did not learn the lessons of Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 well enough — that he’s too reluctant to give Ukraine equipment he worries could provoke a direct U.S. confrontation with Russia. The administration has been at pains to distinguish between giving Ukraine “defensive” vs. “offensive” weapons, a distinction its critics reject.
“It feels like a huge part of the administration’s audience is internal lawyers, and they do these ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ legal hairsplitting arguments,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said recently on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “At the end of the day, every weapon we ship to Ukraine is a defensive weapon system, because they’re the ones being invaded. Ukraine didn’t cause this. There’s a fight for freedom happening in Ukraine.”