AMAC Exclusive By Daniel Roman
While Donald Trump was President, Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoyed rent-free accommodation inside the heads of millions of Democrats and liberals across America. Russians hid under every bed, and each night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow engaged in the 21st-century version of adding names to a chalkboard and drawing lines and circles to prove extensive conspiracies between Russians and every Democratic boogeyman. The Trump Administration, Republican members of Congress, Fox News, and the National Rifle Association all came in for this sort of treatment. One of the arguments Democrats made was that the United States was under assault by Russia. Despite Donald Trump’s willingness to impose some of the toughest sanctions in history on Moscow, America needed a President who would “get tough” with Putin.
After May of 2021, it is clear that America does, in fact, need a president who can stand up to Vladimir Putin, and by all indications, Joe Biden is not that President.
Last month, a Russian hacking group managed to shut down the Colonial Pipeline with a ransomware attack, cutting off fuel supplies to the southeastern USA for multiple days, and triggering high prices and panic buying amidst shortages. The Biden Administration and its “elite” cyber team, who had certified the 2020 election free of cyber-manipulation, rushed to the rescue…by admitting they could do nothing and recommending that the company pay millions in ransom to the attackers. It was a complete and unconditional surrender.
Indeed, it is hard to stress the extent of the national humiliation forced on America last month. The Biden Administration itself seems aware enough of the embarrassment to have initially tried to cover up the fact that the U.S. had given in to the demand for ransom and to have then floated potentially prohibiting future payments, but it is hard to see why the company would have made the payments if the Administration had been in a position to help them. Even the hackers themselves claimed to be vaguely embarrassed by their success, issuing a statement to the BBC insisting that “our goal is to make money and not creating money for society,” and declaring themselves “apolitical” actors who do not “participate in geopolitics.” Even if that is true—something many experts find difficult to believe—for the Russian government to allow such attacks to be made from Russian soil is an act of aggression in itself. The attacks also serve as an invitation for less “apolitical” actors as well as any other “apolitical” actors who now know that American infrastructure is a sitting duck.
The Biden Administration has yet to seriously respond to these attacks, other than to suggest that the issue will be brought up at the upcoming June 12th summit with President Putin. Another issue they have pledged to bring up is that of “human rights.” By this, presumably, the administration refers to an even more blatant action by a Russian proxy, one that it is hard to see anyone daring to undertake while Donald Trump was in office.
On May 23rd, Ryanair flight 4978 was flying over Belarussian airspace when Minsk air traffic control contacted the flight crew with the warning that there was a bomb on-board and a strong recommendation they land in Minsk immediately. To emphasize the “advice,” Belarussian Mig-29 fighters intercepted the aircraft and escorted it to Minsk where KGB agents—yes, Belarus still officially has a KGB—boarded the flight and removed Belarus opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sapega. The flight was then allowed to continue to Vilnius, Lithuania.
This was a blatant act of international kidnapping and piracy of a flight between two European Union capitals, Athens and Vilnius. Worse, it sets a precedent whereby any dictatorship in the world can force the landing of any aircraft flying over its airspace and seize any passenger.
Belarus is a Russian ally, albeit at times an unreliable one which has tried to play the West off against Moscow. However, since protests over the stolen election last summer, the regime of Aleksander Lukashenka has cracked down brutally on dissent and is now kidnapping foreign nationals. If there is any doubt of Russian approval, it has now vanished. When European regulators retaliated by banning the Belarus state airline from operating in Europe and prohibited flights from operating over Belarussian airspace, Moscow blocked several European flights from landing in Moscow. Washington, meanwhile, responded by having White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Belarus to allow a “credible international investigation.”
If that demonstration of the Biden administration’s impotence was not enough, Putin responded to the protests and pro forma sanctions on Belarussian officials by the United States and European Union by hosting Lukashenka on his yacht this past weekend, where the two President’s were photographed fishing and enjoying themselves.
If Belarus’s actions were a direct challenge to international law and the “rules-based” order that Biden pretends to care about upholding, these photos are a direct challenge by Putin to Biden in the lead-up to the summit. They are a clear sign that Putin does not believe Biden can or will do anything to him. Unbelievably, he even warned Biden to expect “uncomfortable signals” before the summit—a comment which can only be interpreted as a threat of more humiliation such as Putin inflicted over the past month. Or perhaps as a prelude to an attack on U.S. food production.
This behavior is an indication that Russia views America as weak under Biden and feels it is sufficiently weak that Putin can afford to behave publicly in an insulting and abusive manner without fear of consequence. For all that Democrats alleged Donald Trump was soft on Russia, Putin never behaved in this manner during the Trump presidency. Whatever Putin’s actions at home, he demonstrated a degree of discretion and self-denial that indicated he feared that anything too blatant or provocative would indeed lead to an aggressive response from Trump. Putin now clearly expects no response from Biden, no matter what he does.
Democrats spent four years warning of the danger of a Russia which believed it had nothing to fear from a U.S. Administration and could act as it chose. In 2021, that exact situation has become a reality under the Biden administration. It is only four months into Joe Biden’s tenure as President, and America is definitely under attack by Russia. Not in the form of un-funny internet cartoons or Facebook groups filled with poor spelling and grammar through which Democrats convinced themselves Russia “hacked the election,” but with a real hack—a direct cyberattack on America’s energy infrastructure.
Yet, for some reason, Putin seems to have vacated his premises in the heads of Democrats, replaced by Q-anon Shamans from January 6th. This may not be such a surprise. Putin has much more important things to do than torment the dreams of Democrats. He has world domination to pursue.
Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Master’s degree in Iranian Studies.
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