Joe Biden’s administration seems determined to make an already bad situation even worse. Hostility toward Russia pervaded his February speech to the annual Munich Security Conference, but that address barely scratched the surface of his animosity. In his first conversation with Putin in early February, Biden contended that the United States was done “rolling over” in the face of Russian “aggression.” The notion that Washington has ever rolled over supinely in its relations with the Kremlin was utter nonsense. Despite the pervasive myth, which Biden and other Democrats fostered, that Donald Trump was “Putin’s puppet” and pursued an appeasement policy toward Moscow, the reality was quite different. The Trump administration’s policy was even more hardline than that of its predecessors and included multiple arms sales to Ukraine, a marked increase in the pace and scope of NATO military exercises, further expansion of NATO’s membership, and active measures to undermine Russia’s client regime in Syria.
Biden’s decision to convey a message to Putin that he intended to make U.S. policy toward Russia even tougher raised tensions to unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, the administration’s actions have matched the provocative rhetoric. In mid‐March, the Commerce Department announced an array of new sanctions in response to the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Washington deployed nuclear‐capable B-1 bombers to Norway for the first time in NATO’s history. The administration stepped up efforts to prevent the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, and especially heavy‐handed initiative to deny Russia revenue from a willing customer.