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Yet on Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris had taken a different tune.
“The purpose of the sanctions has always been and continues to be deterrence,” she said.
Lawmakers reacted to the dueling narratives.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., said the statements revealed a severe lack of communication.
“I don’t think obviously the president, the vice president know what the left hand’s doing from the right hand, and obviously they’re not communicating about things,” Steube told Fox News Digital. “If they don’t believe that the sanctions are effective, then why are they actually doing them? So, obviously they believe that they’re effective. They were unwilling to do it earlier, so they know it has an economic impact to Russia. I think these are things we should’ve done a long time ago.”
The congressman argued that the president’s message only made the U.S. more vulnerable.
“But it goes back to, our adversaries and our enemies saw what happened in Afghanistan, and so they know that Biden is not going to take a strong stance militarily,” Steube said. “And if you listen to his words carefully yesterday, he said we’ll do everything that we can within our power to support our NATO allies. Well, Ukraine’s not one of them. So he basically telegraphed to the Russians that whatever Putin wants to do in the Ukraine, we’re not going to do anything to stop him.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., offered a blunt assessment of the administration’s foreign policy capabilities.
“President Biden was right: no one expected his toothless sanctions to deter Putin,” Cotton said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., responded to the White House’s contradictory comments on sanctions by saying the “currency of deterrence” had already been disrupted because the administration hesitated to act against Russia.
“The currency of deterrence was lost when the president and this administration chose not to move forward sanctions last fall,” Blackburn told Fox News Digital. “The currency was lost when he gave Putin everything he wanted on Nord Stream, with no conditions. And it was lost when there was the renewal of New START. So all of that, your deterrence value was lost at that point.”
“And to say on one hand, that they work and on the other hand that they don’t,” she continued. “What we do know is if they are placed forcefully and if our allies get a solid, comprehensive, cohesive message from us, what our position is, then it works. Our allies need to know that they’re our friends. Our enemies need to know that they better fear us.”
The chaos in Ukraine marks Biden’s second major foreign policy disaster of his presidency, the first being the chaotic and deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan last August.
“No,” Steube said when asked if anyone has been held accountable for Afghanistan. “And because we have a Democratic Congress, we’re not going to.”
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