Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded the alarm ahead of the much-anticipated recent meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Pompeo said that Biden entered the meeting with a “self-dealt weak hand” of which Putin was well aware.
Putin will take advantage of and exploit this weakness, according to Pompeo. Biden has “already signaled to Putin that he is timid and unprepared to confront the Russian Challenge,” Pompeo maintains.
Former President Trump’s secretary of state further elaborated in a recent Op-Ed, saying that Biden has chosen to abandon the leverage Trump and his administration established to deal with Russia.
“Sadly, for American security, he shows up with a self-dealt weak hand that could have been much stronger. We in the Trump administration created real leverage against Russia he could have used. Instead, he has chosen to abandon it,” Pompeo wrote.
Putin can sense Biden’s weakness and will exploit it, he charged.
“Even in just a few months in office, Biden has already signaled to Putin that he is timid and unprepared to confront the Russian challenge—a weakness that ex-KGB agent Putin surely senses,” he wrote.
After the three-hour meeting, Biden told reporters in a shorter-than-expected press conference that he gave President Putin a list of 16 infrastructure entities that are “off-limits” to Russian cyber attacks.
These entities include water, health care, energy, nuclear, chemical, dams, manufacturing, transportation, IT, and financial services.
Putin denies involvement
Putin denied any Russian involvement in the recent cyber attacks that have hit JBS Holdings, a meat-processing company, and Colonial Pipeline.
Both entities paid millions of dollars in ransom for the attacks to restart operations, against the recommendations of the FBI. The pipeline attack drained gas stations across parts of the U.S. East Coast for days.
Although the Colonial Pipeline attack has been linked to a Russian hacking group, Putin claims that the “majority” of the cyber attacks in the world come from the U.S. and Canada.
Still, Biden appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach toward Russia.
“We’ll find out whether we have a cyber security arrangement that begins to bring some order,” he said at a press conference.
“I looked at him. I said, ‘How would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?’ He said, ‘It would matter.’ This is not about just our self-interest.”
After the meeting, Biden held a press conference where he took questions from a pre-approved list of reporters. “I’ll take your questions, and as usual, folks, they gave me a list of the people I’m going to call on,” he said.
As Biden was walking at the end of the press conference, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked why he was “confident” the Russian president would change his past behavior.
Biden whirled around and snapped at Collins, saying, “I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior. What in the hell, what do you do all the time?”
As Collins tried to speak, Biden put up a finger and continued, “When did I say I was confident? Let’s get this straight. I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and diminishes their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything. I’m just stating a fact.”
Collins pressed further, mentioning Putin’s denials of his past behavior, human rights abuses, and unwillingness to even mention the name of dissident Alexei Navalny before asking, “So, how does that account to a constructive meeting?”
“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Biden said before walking away.