OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ripped into President Joe Biden and his administration on Monday over the Russia-Ukraine conflict, suggesting that he is projecting the same “weakness” former President Barack Obama did when Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014.
In addition, DeSantis said during a press briefing that the perception of weakness emanating from the White House before Donald Trump won in 2016 and after he left office was not evident during his term.
“My feeling is they haven’t done enough —Europe or Biden’s administration — to really hit Putin where it counts, and that’s because they have been so weak on domestic energy,” DeSantis said in criticizing Biden’s energy policies, which he said stripped the United States of its energy independent status attained during the latter years of the Trump administration.
“So let’s get back to where we need to get to back to. And I can tell you this. The media spent four years saying that Trump was some type of agent of Russia, and yet, when I was in Congress when Obama was president, Obama refused to send weapons to Ukraine,” DeSantis said, going on to offer a series of comparisons.
“When Trump was president, we sent weapons to Ukraine. Putin didn’t like that very much. When Obama was president, Putin took Crimea. When Trump was president, they didn’t take anything. And now Biden’s president, and they’re rolling into Ukraine,” the Republican governor continued.
He then explained that the botched, deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which 11 Marines, a U.S. Army soldier, and a Navy corpsman were killed by a suicide bomber along with 150 Afghans, and in which hundreds of Americans were left behind along with billions of dollars worth of equipment, sent the wrong signal to potential U.S. enemies.
“It was a total catastrophe, but it displayed the lack of leadership that Joe Biden is bringing to the table,” he said, adding that he did not think that the worst consequence of that withdrawal would be Afghanistan itself.
“Russia was watching that. China was watching that. Iran was watching that. That whetted the appetite of these dictators,” DeSantis said, going on to predict that China and Iran will continue to behave belligerently as well.
“So the weakness has really bred a lot of the disorder you’re seeing right now,” he added.
Trump has also intimated that were he to have won a second term, Russia would not have invaded Ukraine, either.
“If properly handled, there was absolutely no reason that the situation currently happening in Ukraine should have happened at all,” Trump said last month after Russian troops entered Ukraine.
“If properly handled, there was absolutely no reason that the situation currently happening in Ukraine should have happened at all,” he added.
“The weak sanctions are insignificant relative to taking over a country and a massive piece of strategically located land. Now it has begun, oil prices are going higher and higher, and Putin is not only getting what he always wanted, but getting, because of the oil and gas surge, richer and richer,” the former president said.
Other Republicans echoed the ‘weakness’ theme.
“Joe Biden has refused to take meaningful action, and his weakness has emboldened Moscow,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee tweeted, demanding that Biden “immediately” impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline Russia is building to ship natural gas to Germany and other parts of Europe, though Germany itself has already moved to suspend the project.
Meanwhile, Americans’ confidence in Biden’s foreign policy has cratered as well. He “continues to garner low marks for his tenure in the Oval Office as a new poll shows Americans’ faith in his foreign policy has dropped during the Russia-Ukraine crisis,” the Daily Mail noted.