Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that President Joe Biden appears to be much weaker on the world stage than his predecessor, Donald Trump, and that is especially true when it comes to dealing with Russia.
In an interview with Fox News host Ben Domenech, Graham, a South Carolina Republican, pointed out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already challenged Biden to a public debate on live TV because he knew it was something the U.S. president would be unable to do.
“This overall weakness is probably going to be a death sentence for this man,” he said. “Because nobody in Russia is afraid of Joe Biden. Nobody in the world is afraid of Joe Biden and that’s dangerous for us here at home.”
Domenech responded by noting that it is “dangerous” for U.S. foreign policy officials to have an extremely critical view of their own country, especially while potential adversaries like Russia and China are likely to try and test Biden in the months ahead.
He went on to play a clip of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who said during an interview with “Face The Nation” that the United States “cannot whitewash our own issues in our own country” when it comes to pushing other nations to improve their human rights records.
“That statement is pretty offensive because, yeah, we’ve come a long way as a nation, we’ve got a long way to go,” Graham replied. “But I would say this…we’re not perfect but I would like the UN ambassador to let the world know that it is America that stands for freedom, not China. It’s America that stands for the rule of law, not Russia.
“Stop apologizing for the greatest country [in] the history of the planet,” the GOP senator admonished.
Meanwhile, Russia is amassing a massive military presence on its border with Ukraine, as officials in Kyiv said Monday.
“Russian troops continue to arrive in close proximity to our borders in the northeast, in the east, and in the south. In about a week, they are expected to reach a combined force of over 120,000 troops,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said as he called on the U.S. and NATO to ramp up sanctions to deter “further escalation.”
“This does not mean they will stop building up their forces at that number,” he added, noting that Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed separatists for the past few years, does not want all-out war with its much better-armed neighbor.
“The cost of preventing Russia’s further escalation will always be lower than the cost of stopping it and mitigating its consequences. … It is way more effective to clearly make Moscow understand that a new stage of aggression will have dire consequences for Russia, international isolation, and painful economic sanctions,” Kuleba said.
Biden spoke to Putin last week, saying he was concerned about the build-up and proposing a summit with the Russian leader.
“When we spoke again this week, I told him that we would shortly be responding in a measured and proportionate way because we had concluded that they had interfered in the election, and SolarWinds was totally inappropriate,” Biden said.
“Today, I approved several steps, including expulsion of several Russian officials as a consequence of their actions. I’ve also signed an executive order authorizing new measures, including sanctions to address specific harmful actions that Russia has taken against U.S. interests,” he added.
“The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship,” Biden continued.
“If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further actions to respond. It is my responsibility as President of the United States to do so. But throughout our long history of competition, our two countries have been able to find ways to manage tensions and keep them from escalating out of control.”
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