Rep. Jim Banks: Putin Was Waiting for ‘Weak American President’ Like Biden
Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin waited to invade Ukraine until he could work around a “weak American president” like Joe Biden.
The Indiana congressman weighed in on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during a Friday interview with The Daily Signal, critiquing Biden’s “weak” sanctions of Russia thus far.
“If America is truly serious about backing off Russia from invading Ukraine and causing this conflict to go any further or removing them from Ukraine, to begin with, then why not hit Russia where it counts?” asked Banks, proposing four solutions to “very quickly and easily cripple Russia’s economy.”
“We could sanction their energy-dependent economy, which the sanctions don’t do,” he said. “We could remove them from the SWIFT banking system, the international banking system. We could sanction Putin directly, hit him where it hurts. And we could go after the oligarchs around Russia, around Putin, that prop him up.”
Banks’ fourth suggestion is to name Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for “helping Hezbollah and a lot of our other enemies.”
“This president, who is so weak in this moment, has refused to do all of those things, and that’s why we have this conflict continuing to get worse,” he said.
The Indiana congressman said that he believes the Biden administration’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan contributed to the present crisis, telling The Daily Signal, “I served in Afghanistan. It still makes me sick to my stomach what happened last summer.”
“Truly, a debacle that caused so much embarrassment for America on the world stage,” he added, “and make no mistake about it, Putin was waiting for a moment like this. He was waiting for a weak American president.”
Former President Donald Trump made the world more safe and secure through his “strong American foreign policy,” Banks said.
“It’s that American weakness expressed by Joe Biden that has invited Putin to invade Ukraine, but that’s not the worst of it,” he added. “The worst of it is that Chairman Xi [Jinping] and China are watching every move and Russia is doing everything that they’re doing in coordination with China.”
“China is watching every single weak move by America and they know that they can get away with their ultimate goal of taking Taiwan away, and that’s disastrous for Western values, for freedom, for democracy around the world, that they accomplish that,” he said.
The Indiana Republican compared Russia to “a gas station with an army,” noting that Russia depends entirely on oil and gas sectors to prop up its economy.
“Their economy is not as strong as our economy,” he said. “Their military is not as strong as our military, but we have a president in the White House who appears completely unwilling to do anything strong at all to deter Russia, and that’s why all of this is happening.”
Discussing comparisons of American military messaging and Russian military messaging, Banks argued that the Biden administration has pushed woke ideology rather than focusing on building up a stronger military.
“Joe Biden has spent every day in the White House as commander in chief emasculating our military, while other militaries are getting stronger around the world,” Banks said. “It’s about misplaced priorities. It’s about building a military that can fight and win wars, not using the military as a social experiment on some of these radical left-wing issues, like critical race theory, and radical gender theories, and the other leftist ideologies that we’re pushing on the military. It’s sickening to me.”
“At a time when the world is on the brink of a major conflict, the world is not safe, it’s a dangerous place … we have a president who’s more focused on advancing critical race theory and some of these left-wing ideologies on our military, and our schools, and really stripping away who and what we are as Americans,” he added.
Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Mary Margaret.