According to an analyst, Joe Biden’s Afghanistan debacle showed Vladimir Putin that he is a man who can be pushed around. Stephen Sestanovich was the Ambassador for the former Soviet Union at the US State Department. He has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and he is neither a Biden critic nor a right-winger.
Moreover, Russia’s authorities have retaliated with a blatant brazen military intrusion, deliberate inflaming of ethnic tensions within Ukraine, a hasty and unlawful referendum in Crimea that was widely condemned, and now, today, preparations to seize Crimea. Russia has presented several justifications for what is essentially a land grab, but the world has seen right through Russia’s rationale and rejected it. If Russia continues on its current course, its political and economic isolation will only grow, and it will face extra greater penalties from the US and the EU.
The Obama Administration did collaborate with the European Union on a broad sanctions campaign. The Minsk peace process was sponsored by France and Germany, with US assistance but no seat at the table. The sanctions have had a mediocre impact on the Russian economy thus far (oil and gas prices have hurt much more).
Furthermore, even former Obama officials thought they had underreacted to Russian provocations and disregarded the mounting threat from Moscow during the Trump years. “He felt like they kind of choked,” a former senior Obama Administration official participating in Russia discussions said. Another former Obama official stated, “It would have been acceptable and important to support Ukraine with what it needed to protect its territory.”
Therefore Celeste Wallander worked as a special assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia on the National Security Council. Even those who devised Obama’s answer to Putin did not think it was harsh or effective. The Russian ruler was probably convinced that Biden was all bluster and no bite. Then he witnessed the disaster that was the United States’ exit from Afghanistan.