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Pompeo says Biden is playing with ‘self-dealt weak hand’ ahead of Putin summit

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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging President Biden ​to utilize the leverage established by the Trump administration in his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin — saying Biden is entering the summit with “a self-dealt weak hand” and has “already signaled to Putin that he is timid and unprepared to confront the Russian challenge.”

“Sadly, for American security, he shows up with a self-dealt weak hand that could have been much stronger,” Pompeo wrote in an opinion piece posted on Fox News Tuesday. “We in the Trump administration created real leverage against Russia he could have used. Instead, he has chosen to abandon it.”

Pompeo listed a litany of measures put in place by former President Donald Trump’s foreign policy to curb Russia’s influence, adding, however, that Biden “has already begun squandering this leverage, in part by telegraphing climate change as his top national security priority.”

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16, 2021.
OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“Encouraging our warfighters to adopt this ridiculous mindset — one apparently shared by what are supposed to be some of America’s most gifted military leaders — is extremely dangerous. It tells aggressors that our strategic priorities are out of whack, and we are ripe to be taken advantage of,” the former secretary of state wrote.

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“Biden needs to make clear to Putin that our military places Russian aggression in the highest echelon of threats, and he will support our armed forces in deterring it.”

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Pompeo also warned that any promise by the Russian president on the issue of “global warming” ought to be met with skepticism, given Putin’s incentive to benefit from an American “Climate Change First agenda.”

President Biden must convince Russia that it is against their interest to align themselves with China, Mike Pompeo wrote.
President Biden must convince Russia that it is against their interest to align themselves with China, Mike Pompeo wrote.
Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images

“Any promises Putin makes of tackling climate change together are hollow. Russia is a major petroleum producing nation that will gain geopolitical leverage worldwide if America cuts back our oil and gas production. A Climate Change First agenda is foolish in more ways than one,” he wrote.

“Biden showed rank hypocrisy in canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline while allowing Russia to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline supplying gas to Germany. This senseless move will cause America’s allies to become more dependent on Russian energy,” he continued, referring to Biden’s announcement last month that he would be waiving sanctions against the Russian-owned company behind the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany because “it’s almost completely finished.”

Following two major cyberattacks on critical infrastructure by Russian-based hackers, Pompeo urged in his op-ed that Biden confront Putin by insisting that “cyberattacks will be addressed in no different a manner than other attacks on America from Russian soil.”

“Biden should also threaten a merciless cyber response against Russia if government-backed cyberattacks and meddling in our democracy continue — one that should strike at the heart of Russia’s security apparatus and Putin’s inner circle of kleptocrats, if necessary,” Pompeo wrote.

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Pointing out that Trump’s national security team coordinated to provide the White House more authority to respond to cyberattacks, Pompeo said that “Biden must use that latitude to hunt down and cripple these digital terrorists, and demand that Putin likewise refuse to let them operate with impunity inside Russia.”  

Finally, Pompeo wrote, Biden must convince Russia that it is against their interest in the long run to align themselves with China — and that the US president should make clear to Putin that “cozying up to China will make his country a tributary state to the Chinese Communist Party.”

The former secretary of state, pointing to areas of mutual benefit in the US-Russia relationship, added that “there is still room to cooperate on narrow common interests.”

Former President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands.
Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration created leverage with Russia that should be used by President Biden.
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images

“Biden must demand that critical areas of security cooperation continue,” he wrote, warning, however, that “[I]f Biden apologizes for America or casts pie-in-the-sky visions for cooperation, Putin will sense weakness, and America’s Russia policy will be in for a long three and a half years.”

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