EXCLUSIVE: ‘Speak Loudly And Carry A Small Stick’: Republicans Blast Biden’s Response To Putin’s Escalation In Ukraine

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Republicans blasted President Joe Biden’s efforts to prevent a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine as “weak” and “embarrassing” hours after Biden held a call Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Republicans from all corners of the party criticized Biden after he only threatened an economic response should Russia move forward with an invasion of Ukraine. Both White House press secretary Jen Psaki and national security adviser Jake Sullivan refused to state whether the U.S. or NATO would be willing to take direct military action to defend Ukraine.

“‘Speak loudly and carry a small stick’ is a weak game plan,” Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse told the Daily Caller in a Tuesday statement. “Biden has given Putin the upper hand at almost every turn: letting Russia dictate reciprocal diplomatic representation, waiving sanctions on NordStream 2, and turning the page from Paul Whelan and Alexei Navalny’s unjust imprisonment.”

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 06: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the Build Back Better legislation's new rules around prescription drug prices in the East Room of the White House on December 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. According to the White House, the legislation will lower the costs of prescription drugs by giving negotiation powers to Medicare, imposing a tax penalty if drug companies increase prices faster than inflation, lowering insulin prices to $35 a month for people with diabetes and other regulations. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 06: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the Build Back Better legislation’s new rules around prescription drug prices in the East Room of the White House on December 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Biden administration removed former President Donald Trump’s sanctions against the NordStream 2 pipeline soon after gaining office. The project, which is now virtually complete, allows for the mass transportation of oil directly from Russia to Germany. Biden is now using the threat of renewed sanctions against NordStream 2 to leverage Putin away from invading Ukraine, but former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says that ship has already sailed.

“Joe Biden should have already stopped NordStream 2,” Haley said in a statement provided to the Caller. “To offer it as a threat now is weak and embarrassing. He already handed Putin exactly what he wanted.”

Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor on Tuesday and blamed Biden and Democrats entirely for the deteriorating security of Ukraine, arguing their hawkishness on Russia vanished when Trump left office.

“When it comes to standing up to Russia, for Decades Democrats have shown weakness and appeasement to the Soviet Union, and as soon as Donald Trump was gone, we see Democrats going back to weakness and appeasement to Russia again,” he said.

Reporters also pressed the White House on the message Biden’s Ukraine response may send to China at Tuesday’s press briefing. China has long mirrored Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine with its own threats to retake Taiwan by force.

“Some observers have described a nightmare scenario where President Putin invades Ukraine and also simultaneously President Xi uses force to reunify Taiwan with China. Is the U.S. prepared to deal with such a scenario?” a reporter asked Sullivan.

“The United States is going to take every action that we can take, from the point of view of both deterrence and diplomacy, to make sure that the Taiwan scenario you just described never happens, and to try to avert the invasion into Urkaine,” Sullivan said. “That is the object of our policy right now. Those are the steps we’re taking.”

Trump argued Biden’s vow of economic action against Russia only confirms the message Biden’s “pathetic” withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan sent to world leaders in August and September.

“Vladimir Putin looks at our pathetic surrender in Afghanistan, leaving behind dead Soldiers, American citizens, and $85 billion worth of Military equipment. He then looks at Biden. He is not worried,” the former president said in a statement.

Russian troops have continued to amass along the Ukrainian border, and U.S. intelligence officials believe that Moscow is prepping for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine as early as the next few weeks, according to The Washington Post.

“The troop movements have involved the addition of battalion tactical groups around Ukraine in multiple, different geographies around those borders – to the south, the west, and to the northeast as well,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters in a Tuesday call. “And we have also seen, as Secretary [Antony] Blinken said last week, a significant spike in social media activity pushing anti-Ukrainian propaganda, which is approaching levels that we last saw in the lead up to Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. ”