Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said Tuesday that it was ill-advised for President Joe Biden to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Cotton told Fox News’ Gillian Turner that he believed Biden should be focused on China, which he argued posed a greater risk to Americans in the short term — and that weak actions toward Russia in addition to agreeing to a meeting gave Putin the upper hand. (RELATED: ‘Every Cop In America Should Be Terrified’: Tom Cotton Accuses Kristen Clarke Of ‘Jumping To Conclusions’ On Jacob Blake)
Turner brought Cotton into the discussion to respond to President Biden’s promise to hold Putin accountable but to cooperate with Russia when there were areas of agreement.
“What are they? Are there any left at this point?” Turner asked.
“I’m afraid they’re not. I’m less concerned on how Joe Biden stumbles and bumbles his way through describing Vladimir Putin than I am concerned about how Joe Biden behaves toward Vladimir Putin. For the last four months, he has been pathetically weak,” Cotton replied.
Cotton went on to list a series of actions that he said showed the Biden administration’s deference to Russia — namely the extension of an arms treaty he said greatly favored Russia, and Biden’s decision to waive sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“Right now, Joe Biden has even said that he’s not imposing all of the sanctions that he could. He’s certainly not taking taking the aggressive offensive actions he could to impose a cost on Vladimir Putin for his actions. Joe Biden can say whatever he wants at this summit tomorrow but until he acts with strength and with vigor, then Vladimir Putin is going to know he still has the upper hand,” Cotton added.
Turner went on to ask what Cotton would advise a president to do in that situation, knowing, “there’s war in cyberspace, there’s the nuclear program you just mentioned, there is their treatment of dissidents and human rights abuses including of Alexei Navalny … How would you prioritize these different threats?”
“I would not be going into the summit tomorrow. I think it was ill-advised for the president to make one of his major bilateral summits overseas with Vladimir Putin especially after the string of weak actions towards Russia,” Cotton continued, arguing that Biden should have “spent more time” addressing the immediate threats posed by China and encouraging the United States’ European allies to stand up against China as well.
“Russia remains a threat but China is the threat that the United States and really the free world faces in of the decades ahead,” Cotton said.
“You said that there is this very real potential threat that nobody seems to be talking about which is what if the Russian and Chinese governments tag team … Can you tease that line of thinking out for us a little bit?” Turner pressed.
Cotton said that the fact that U.S. foreign policy had always been built around ensuring that the Cold War-era fear of a united Communist China and Communist Russia would take on the rest of the world.
“Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon went to China and helped turn China against the Soviet Union. But that was then and this is now. China is the main threat now and we need to ensure that we are taking steps to prevent that kind of cooperation,” Cotton concluded, saying it was vital to ensure “they don’t have the ability to cooperate, that they can’t combine their vast terrain … their resources in a way that would undermine American jobs, American prosperity and ultimately American freedom.”