Biden's Ukraine Visit Seen as 'Gut Punch' to Putin

A roundup of reactions to president's surprise trip
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2023 2:09 PM CST
Biden's Ukraine Visit Seen as 'Gut Punch' to Putin
President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talk during Biden's unannounced visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023.   (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Marjorie Taylor Greene hates the idea of President Biden's surprise visit to Ukraine, declaring that he "chose Ukraine over America" on Presidents Day. The conservative congresswoman isn't the only one weighing in:

  • Big move: This was no political stunt, writes Eliot A. Cohen in the Atlantic. It was an "act of statesmanship" that doubled as a "gut punch" to Vladimir Putin. "The Russians received word of the trip, we are informed—and presumably the threat, stated or implied, that they would get a violent and overwhelming response if they attempted to interfere with it. For a leader obsessed with strength, like Putin, that is a blow. His own people will quietly or openly ask, 'Why could we not prevent this?' And the answer, unstated, will have to be, 'Because we were afraid.'"

  • The words: David Rothkopf in the Daily Beast also sees the visit as humiliating to Putin. He likens Biden's line—"one year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine strands. Democracy stands"—to that of Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall." In regard to Putin, "it was Biden’s way of saying, 'I am here in Kyiv and you are not. You not only did not take Kyiv in days as some predicted, but your attack was rebuffed. Your army suffered a humiliating defeat from which it has not recovered.'"
  • The symbolism: At the conservative National Review, Mark Antonio Wright is reminded of FDR's travels through Europe during WWII. Because make no mistake, this trip was risky. Yes, Americans can disagree on what should happen next in regard to our Ukraine policy, he writes. But "no one should be under any illusion about the power of an American president going into a war zone to extend a hand to a beleaguered people and offer 'unwavering support.'"
  • Meaningless? Fox News talks to author and former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler, and she shrugs off the importance of the visit. When asked what impact it will have on Putin, she responded: "Zero. The visit itself is kind of a feel-good strategy by Biden. It doesn't do anything to Putin. He's just marching forward with his agenda, with his objectives. And the visit itself, it really doesn't do anything."
(Read more President Biden stories.)

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