Skip to content
Opinion
Eli Lake

Who’s Appeasing Putin Now?

Biden’s failure to forcefully confront Russia on Ukraine and other matters puts Democrats in an awkward position. 

Who’s appeasing who? 

Who’s appeasing who? 

Photographer: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

On the campaign trail in 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden posed as hawk on Russia. In response to reports (later discredited) that then-President Donald Trump had ignored intelligence suggesting Russia had paid for bounties on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Biden declared that Trump’s “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin.”

Biden’s attitude was partly explained by his party’s obsession with the (also discredited) theory that Trump conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election. And Trump’s own inexplicable sycophancy toward Russian President Vladimir Putin bolstered this Democratic narrative. So it’s understandable that some voters believed Biden would take a harder line on Putin than Trump.