Russian dissident Alexei Navalny says President Joe Biden needs to stop letting Russian leader Vladimir Putin push him around.
Navalny is in a Russian prison but has exchanged letters with Time magazine, according to Time. The magazine said it printed Navalny’s responses to various questions it posed.
In response to a query about Russian-American relations and the growing conflict over Ukraine, Navalny told time, “Time and again the West falls into Putin’s elementary traps.”
“He issues some insane, laughable demands, like these latest ones, about how he and Biden need to sit down in a smoke-filled room and decide the fate of Europe like we’re back in 1944. And if the U.S. doesn’t agree, he’ll ‘pull something,’” Navalny wrote.
He said Biden and his administration are wrong to scurry at every Putin pronouncement.
“Instead of ignoring this nonsense, the U.S. accepts Putin’s agenda and runs to organize some kind of meetings. Just like a frightened schoolboy who’s been bullied by an upperclassman,” Navalny wrote.
The stylized dance rarely changes, he wrote, saying that the American response to Putin is always, “If you pull something, then we’ll impose harsh sanctions.”
“That’s exactly what Putin needs, because it follows that, if he does not attack Ukraine, then there won’t be any sanctions. There’ll just be the carrot, and no stick,” Navalny wrote.
“With that, the combination is complete: Putin doesn’t need to worry about the sanctions that were nearly imposed on his cronies. The Biden Administration first convinced Congress to shelve them, and now cancels them entirely. Since they promised Putin a carrot, it’s not the time for sanctions.”
Navalny said he is amazed at how gullible the Americans are time and again.
“It just takes my breath away to watch how Putin pulls this on the American establishment again and again: threaten to escalate—negotiate—pull back; threaten to escalate—negotiate—pull back. Watching this, I get the sense that it’s not U.S. foreign policy, but that short story by O. Henry, about the sneaky crook (Putin) tricking the village simpleton who thinks he’s so smart (the U.S. State Department),” he wrote.
.@PressSec: “We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack on Ukraine.”
— Alex Ward (@alexbward) January 18, 2022
On Wednesday, Secretary of state Antony Blinken issued a warning about the potential invasion of Ukraine by Russia, according to The Hill.
“We know that there are plans in place to increase that force even more on very short notice, and that gives President Putin the capacity, also on very short notice, to take further aggressive action against Ukraine,” Blinken said at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
Navalny said the U.S. responses to Putin are puny.
When asked by Time magazine about the Biden administration, Navalny replied: “In Russia we’re all tired of rolling our eyes, watching the U.S. impose sanctions on some colonels and generals, who don’t even have money abroad. These are just the agents of Putin’s will.”
Navalny said he expects Biden will make Russia a secondary focus.
“Biden is the President of the U.S. and not Russia. I had no naïve thoughts that he would deal with the international agenda, or with my poisoning/imprisonment, to the detriment of domestic issues. And I understand on the whole how politics works in the U.S. The President (and this is a good thing, not a bad one) cannot in an instant decide and get everything he wants,” Navalny said.
But he said action is needed to fight international corruption.
“Corruption is the source of most international problems (from Afghanistan and Iraq to Ukraine and Putin) that take up 60% of American Presidents’ time and trillions of dollars from the pockets of American taxpayers.
“Most of all I hope that the simple and easy means of pressure will finally be applied with some sense,” Navalny wrote.
He summed up Putin’s formula for governing as the endless pursuit of power.
“He takes a view that is really primitive and popular among dictators: never show weakness. Show weakness, and you’ll get overthrown. Weakness to him means any concessions to the opposition or to public opinion.”