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Analysis – The crisis in Russia makes Biden have many disadvantages at home, many downsides According to Reuters



© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden looks down while holding a virtual roundtable on securing key minerals at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden wants to spend 2022 building bridges, literally and figuratively, in the United States. Instead, he faces being dragged into a crisis by Russian President Vladimir Putin that could reshape Europe.

Aides said Biden, who just a month ago planned to combat his fall in the five-year US midterm elections by stepping out of the White House to “look people in the eyes” across the country. America, is now diving into the details of Aides said the challenge to Russian-Ukrainian foreign policy, not the election cycle.

“He doesn’t talk about politics,” said a senior administration official. “He was very focused on his calls with foreign leaders, or who he was going to talk to next, or saying ‘I need to phone the general department heads (of staff), or call Tony (Blinken, secretary of state) and tell him what to say.’ He’s extremely involved in directing every detail here.”

In an election year when the party that controls the White House often loses seats in Congress, the shadow of politics remains, whether the White House wants it or not, strategists from both parties say.

Biden has said that American troops will not go to Ukraine, and that American voters often do not cast their votes based on events abroad. But disruptions to energy supplies from Russia to Europe could send gasoline prices in the US soaring, adding to the pain Americans are already suffering from the highest inflation rate in 40 years.

“If Russia invades and it’s a quick invasion and it’s only a matter of days, then that’s obviously a lot better than a protracted effort because oil prices won’t fall for a long time. “, said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson. .

Biden has portrayed Ukraine tensions as part of a global war between autocracy and democracy. If the United States and its Western allies can stand up to Putin and build an independent Ukraine, while keeping U.S. forces out of war, that’s it, said Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf. would probably improve his popularity.

“If he shows strength and prowess, that will hopefully improve his numbers – and the most important thing for Democrats in November is that he has better numbers,” Elmendorf said. speak. But Elmendorf said he believes much of the country’s mood will depend less on Ukraine and more on whether people feel they are recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

Putin’s determination to rule an independent Ukraine means the crisis could last for weeks, months or longer. If Biden is seen as stumbling in his handling of the issue, Republicans who have focused on thwarting Biden’s COVID policies and legislative agenda amid their party’s struggles, potentially potentially redouble efforts to view the president as weak and too passive to oppose Putin.

“This Ukraine situation has become a real distraction for Biden,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed. “It took him away from the issues that voters cared about: inflation, gas prices, borders.”

INFLATION IS ‘HUGE’

the global benchmark, is hovering around $100 a barrel, its highest level since September 2014. Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia and the United States, and a major supplier. significant level for Europe.

According to interviews with experts and administration officials, the Biden administration is not expected to target Russia’s oil and gas sector due to concerns about inflation and the harm it could cause. to its European allies.

“Inflation is a big concern. You have a region in Europe that’s experiencing an inflation crisis,” said Sarah Emerson (NYSE :), president of Energy Security Analysis, Inc., a global consulting firm. development and you want to make it worse”.

Biden was careful to include a warning to Americans about the potential for higher energy prices in addition to the speech he delivered on Tuesday, to make sure Americans understood how conflict could affect them, the assistants noted.

His team includes veterans of then-President Barack Obama’s experience with Russia and Ukraine in 2014, including White House officials Jake Sullivan and Jon Finer, Eric Green and Amanda Sloat, and press secretary Jen Psaki in the West Wing, and two top national security aides to Vice President Kamala Harris, Nancy McEldowney and Phil Gordon, believe they have learned from mistakes.

A former senior Obama aide said the current reaction is stronger than what Obama did in 2014, when Putin annexed Crimea despite US warnings.

“It certainly sounds more intense,” said the aide who asked to remain anonymous. That’s “because we learned, we country and a lot of the participants now joined at that time,” he said.



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