Relations between the United States and Russia have reached a dangerous watershed following an unprecedented personal insult by American President Joe Biden to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
But note the sequence here. Biden’s insults were then followed by U.S. threats of draconian sanctions to kill the Nord Stream 2 gas project between Russia and Europe. Just who is the killer here?
The world may be thankful that Russia is being so magnanimous in its response to Biden’s puerile and slanderous sniping. The crisis in bilateral relations provoked by the U.S. president has the potential to escalate, but it is only down to Moscow’s restraint that further deterioration in relations is being checked – for now.
In an interview with ABC News, aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked if he agreed that Russia’s leader was a “killer”. To which the American president replied in the affirmative, “I do.” He also warned that Russia “would pay a price” over allegations of interfering in the U.S. elections and other supposed malpractices.
One can safely assume that the Biden administration is hellbent on making relations with Russia even worse as its intelligence agencies “review” over the next few weeks already-made presumptions about Russia’s purported culpability.
For his part, the Russian president responded calmly and generously, saying that he wished Biden good health. Putin even offered to hold a live conversation with his American counterpart on a range of issues. One might infer that these are oblique references to suspicions about Biden’s mental health and his apparent loss of cognitive powers when speaking in public.
One other comment by Putin was telling. He said of Biden’s “killer” remark, “it takes one to know one”.
Joseph Biden’s career as a politician spans nearly half a century, first as a long-time senator, then as vice president in two administrations and now the 46th president of the United States. During that period, Biden has been a key player in facilitating countless U.S. overseas wars and military operations which have resulted in millions of deaths and destruction of whole nations. As a senior senator on the foreign affairs committee, it was Biden who was instrumental in drumming up congressional support for the American war on Iraq beginning in 2003. That war alone – based on lies and fabrications concerning weapons of mass destruction – led to at least one million dead and unleashed terrorism across the Middle East and beyond.
More recently, just four weeks after his inauguration, Biden ordered airstrikes on Syria on February 26 causing multiple deaths. It was a murderous act of illegal aggression.
So indeed the American president knows what it is to be a killer. He sees it every time he looks in the mirror.
The casual arrogance and ignorance of the American political class is astounding. They make accusations against Putin based on flimsy rumors, such as the alleged poisoning of conman Alexei Navalny. And then they have no decency or decorum by bandying about vulgar labels. Meanwhile, the piles of dead bodies lying under American politicians’ feet are mountainous. They have no shame.
Following the latest outburst from the American president and his intelligence agency groundlessly accusing Russia of interfering in the 2020 election, Moscow has temporarily recalled its ambassador to reassess bilateral relations. It is the first time this has happened in over 20 years. There is no factual or diplomatic precedent for the evident American attempt to provoke a crisis. Not even during the frozen Cold War decades did U.S. leaders stoop to such gross and offensive rhetoric. There seems to be a more general degeneration in Washington’s diplomatic conduct over recent administrations. America no longer has statesmen. Its political ranks are full of hacks and hicks and mumbo-jumbo conspiracists.
When Biden won the election, he promised to revamp American diplomacy with intelligent statecraft and skillful negotiators. An early positive sign was his prompt contact with Russia to extend the New START treaty governing nuclear weapons. But apart from that move, the Biden administration has sought to undermine bilateral relations with Russia. The prospects of a new detente or reset have been jettisoned. (The same is also apparent regarding U.S. relations with China and Iran.)
It seems likely that Biden and his team are deliberately provoking a crisis with Russia in order to justify a geopolitical policy of hardening hostility towards Moscow.
Foremost in this context is the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the American objective to terminate that project. The day after Biden sent relations with Russia into a downward spiral, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the U.S. would be imposing tough new sanctions on “any entity involved the Nord Stream 2 pipeline”. Blinken stated there was “a whole of government commitment in the United States to stopping” the gas supply project between Russia and Europe.
It cannot be overstated that the $11 billion pipeline is a huge geopolitical issue. It is front and center to Washington’s global ambitions. The Americans want to kill it in order to sell their own more expensive gas to Europe for decades to come. Washington also views the energy partnership between Russia and Europe as an obstacle to its hegemonic position.
Germany and other European states have remained steadfast in their support for completing the construction of Nord Stream 2 which is about 95 per cent finished, nearly 1,200 kilometers of pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany’s coast. When it becomes operational the flow of gas to Germany from Russia will double in volume. Thus it is vital for Germany and Europe’s long-term growth.
In a desperate bid to thwart the strategic partnership between Russia and Europe, Washington is resorting to ever-more frantic threats of sanctions and other disruptive measures. Biden is playing the personal insult card in a gambit for blowing up bilateral relations with Russia as a way to sabotage Nord Stream 2.
It’s a pathetic move, one that actually speaks more of America’s historic enfeeblement rather than pretensions of power. Russia would do well to stay calm and let the Americans make fools of themselves.