A bipartisan push by Capitol Hill to forcibly the White House to expel hundreds Russian diplomats has back President Biden in a corner. This fuels doubts about his promises to be tough on the Kremlin, and raises questions about whether the U.S. have squandered its leverage to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Lawmakers are pressing Mr. Biden to retaliate diplomatically after Russia virtually banned the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from hiring Russian and third-country employees, forcing the American outpost to let go of more than 180 staffers. This unusually aggressive move highlighted how badly relations between Cold War enemies have deteriorated.
The administration’s lack of a strong response has given fresh fuel to critics who say Mr. Biden hasn’t kept his campaign promise to crack down on Mr. Putin and dissuade Moscow from needling the U.S. whenever and wherever possible. The 2020 campaign was harshly criticised by Democrats for their repeated failure to hold President Trump accountable.
Some foreign policy specialists say there is a reason the administration is unlikely to follow through with Congress’ demand and kick Russian diplomats out of Washington. They argue that the administration is not being tough on Putin but instead, Russia is responsible for counterterrorism operations, as well as nuclear negotiations with Iran.
The Kremlin announced that it would host a delegation representing the new Taliban government in Afghanistan on Thursday. Russia is the dominant military power in the Central Asian countries surrounding Afghanistan. This gives Russia new leverage as the Biden team attempts to repair the Afghanistan mess.
” The problem is that the Biden administration is now inadvertently dependent on not escalating Russia due to the situation in Afghanistan,” stated Luke Coffey of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. The U.S. must have access to Central Asia and engagement with these countries. Russia could turn this on and off.
“On Iran this administration remains very desperately to secure a nuclear agreement. And historically it has been Russia who provided diplomatic cover for Iran at the international stage,” Mr. Coffey stated. “The Biden administration has positioned itself in a corner .”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a European trip this week, told reporters in Paris that he had spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about ways to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Trump repudiated the agreement in 2018. Moscow, which has strong relations with Tehran, is likely to be a crucial go-between in any resumption of talks and the signing of a new deal.
” We had the opportunity to exchange notes on where and how we stand and where our hopes are going,” Mr. Blinken said to reporters. In Russia , Mr. Lavrov stated that talks to revive Iran’s accord should be resumed “as soon as possible .”
The Pentagon has confirmed that U.S. military officials have been in contact with Russian counterparts over a possible offer to allow American military forces access to Russian bases in the area. Although controversial, such an arrangement could provide the U.S. with a crucial base of operations from which to launch attacks against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and surrounding areas.
The U.S.-Russia dynamic hardly resembles the world Mr. Biden sketched out during the 2020 presidential race. As a candidate, Mr. Biden stated that Mr. Trump was cosying up to Mr. Putin. He promised to take tough action to deliver real results. The Trump administration has placed new sanctions on Russian officials and sent large weapons shipments to Ukraine. Still, those steps have hardly stemmed malign behavior from Moscow that has brought relations with the West to a three-decade low.
” We have to recognize that the relationship between NATO and the trans-Atlantic families and Russia has been at its lowest point since the Cold War,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a policy speech delivered at Georgetown University this week.
Mr. Biden condemned Putin’s detention and poisoning of Alexei Navalny last year, as well as numerous cyberattacks against U.S. agencies and companies, among other issues.
Some of Mr. Biden ‘s Democratic colleagues want concrete actions. In a letter to the president this week, 17 senators, including nine Democrats, pushed the administration to respond directly to Russia‘s diplomatic moves. The Democratic leaders were Senator Robert Menendez, New Jersey’s chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Sen. Mark R. Warner, Virginia’s chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sens. The letter was also signed by James E. Risch from Idaho and Marco Rubio from Florida, who were the top Republicans on the panels.
“This abrupt, unilateral action by the Russians jeopardizes U.S. Embassy Moscow’s daily operations and the State Department’s ability to meet the consular needs of Americans who live in, work in, or travel to Russia,” the letter says. “It also undermines the ability of embassy personnel — including the ambassador — to do their critical work representing the policy interests of the United States in Moscow.”
” We ask that your national security staff take immediate, concrete measures to provide U.S. Embassy Moscow the staffing and support it requires by taking responsible, proportional and immediate responses to the provocations taken by the Russian government,” concludes the letter.
State Department officials condemned Russia‘s forced staffing cuts at the U.S. Embassy but would not say whether further action was under consideration.
” We do not comment on correspondence from Congress. Russia‘s measures have had a negative impact on the U.S. mission to Russia‘s operations, safety of our personnel, as well as our ability to engage in diplomacy with the Russian government,” a State Department spokesperson told The Washington Times. “We support our diplomatic mission to Russia , and will continue to engage with the Russian government in these matters .”
,” a spokesperson for State Department told The Washington Times.
The U.S. government, the spokesperson said, “reserves the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia‘s actions.”
Top Russian officials said the move was an effort by the West to cast Moscow as the world’s leading villain and would hurt any effort to ease tensions.
“There’s a stark discrepancy in the statements of NATO officials about normalizing relations with our country and their actual actions,” stated Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson. These actions are clear that there is no room to make any illusions about normalization of relations or the resumption the dialogue with NATO .
“They don’t know how many Russian diplomats work there,” a Kremlin spokesperson told the Tass news agency.