Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused no pause in partisan squabbling in the United States Congress on Thursday, with some Republicans criticizing Democratic President Joe Biden’s handling of the crisis and urging him to “change course” in his response.
Some Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives blamed Biden for failing to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from sending troops into Ukraine and urged the US president to take a stronger stance in Europe’s largest conflict since World War II.
“There’s no doubt that weakness leads to war,” House Foreign Affairs Committee member Representative Brian Mast said in a tweet Thursday morning. “Putin once said the collapse of the Soviet empire was the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe’ of the past century for Russia. For America, President Biden may be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of this century.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine came after months of military buildup along the country’s borders, prompting frantic diplomacy and sanctions from the US and NATO, which failed to prevent the incursion. Biden will deliver a speech to the nation at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT).
“It’s been nearly 12 hours since Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, and Biden’s only response has been a Zoom call. Where has Biden gone? He is the free world’s leader. It’s past time to start acting like it “Rep. Carlos Gimenez posted on Twitter.
As the invasion began late Wednesday, Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, convened his National Security Council on Thursday, and met with his counterparts from the Group of Seven allies to map out more severe responses.
“The president must change course or our deterrent posture will continue to collapse, chaos will spread, and eventually no one will trust America’s promises or fear America’s power,” said House Armed Services Committee member Representative Mike Gallagher.
Former President Donald Trump, who remains the most powerful voice in the Republican Party even after leaving office, threatened to leave NATO during his four years in office, calling the military alliance “obsolete.” He withdrew the US from international treaties, including the Paris Climate Accord, which it has since rejoined, and from a pact in which Iran curtailed its uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons, which is now being renegotiated. Trump, who admires Putin, called the Russian leader’s actions leading up to the invasion “genius,” “smart,” and “pretty savvy.”
The Republican congressional response, which blamed Biden, called for stronger sanctions, and warned against any use of US troops in Ukraine, largely mirrored Republican voter sentiments as lawmakers prepare for the Nov. 8 midterm elections, which will determine the balance of power in Congress ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, only 34% of Americans approved of Biden’s handling of the crisis in the run-up to the invasion, including only 12% of Republicans. Twenty-five percent of Republicans polled said Biden was primarily to blame for the conflict, while 46 percent blamed Putin. Almost one-fifth were unsure who was to blame.
Senator Mitt Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a moderate voice in his party, offered broader criticism that blamed former Presidents Barack Obama and Trump’s responses to Russia while evoking the Reagan era’s tough stance against the former Soviet Union.
“Putin’s impunity follows our lukewarm response to his previous atrocities in Georgia and Crimea, our naive attempts at a one-sided ‘reset,’ and the shortsightedness of ‘America First.’ We didn’t answer when the ’80s called “Romney made the remarks in a statement. Senator Dan Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned that Putin’s actions had altered the global landscape for the United States and its Western allies.
“We must recognize that this new era of authoritarian aggression will most likely last decades. We must face it with strategic determination and confidence,” Alaska’s Republican said.