Former Obama official: Biden making mistakes on Ukraine

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — A former American diplomat and Obama administration foreign affairs specialist says the current situation in Ukraine is playing out similarly to when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

“I’m seeing a lot of the same mistakes that we made back in 2014 replaying themselves again and again here,” Brett Bruen said on “On Balance.” Bruen served as Obama’s director of global engagement.

“We talk about strong economic sanctions, and yet there’s no evidence that economic sanctions have changed the Kremlin’s calculus. So we’ve got to start looking at other options.”

It comes as the Biden administration is warning that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said the situation is not that dire yet and is “under control.”

The State Department is working to get Americans out of the country as tensions rise.

Some have come to praise the current president for putting troops on deployment alert and sending signals the United States won’t just watch another Putin invasion of a sovereign neighbor. Tuesday, even Sen. Minority leader Mitch McConnell said, “It appears to me that the administration is moving in the right direction.”

Still, Bruen is skeptical Putin will back down with sanctions alone. Some in Europe are worried he could respond to sanctions by refusing to sell oil to western nations.

“Too many on Biden’s team have not realized that the world has changed remarkably in the last several years,” Bruen said.

Bruen praised former President Donald Trump for ordering military operations in Syria that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Russian mercenaries. Bruen credits that move with sending the sort of message that makes Putin pay attention.

Diplomacy and de-escalation tactics may not be the right language, Bruen said.

“[Putin’s] going to take the off-ramp, and then he’s going to accelerate down the highway,” Bruen said. “So we’ve got to come up with some real punishments that are going to make a difference.”

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