Fiona Hill's Appease Russia Policy Fails

Post that disastrous summit that gave Putin everything he wanted, Ransomware hackers just did it again. Will Biden strike back?

It’s no fun having to criticize ‘your guy’ in politics, but for honest journalists, those are the breaks. And this 4th July weekend sees a giant and wholly self-inflicted wound hitting the Biden administration. Its weakness over Russia, undoubtedly driven by Fiona Hill, the worst Russia advisor this side of Paul Manafort, the woman who, under Trump, co-authored open letters with Alfa Bank lobbyists saying we should drop Russian sanctions and reconcile with Putin, has just led to Russia quite simply attacking the US again with ransomware - same exact group; same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

When Biden met Putin - as he never should have done - he handed the Russian President a priceless PR opportunity. He’d already listened to Fiona Hill - did I mention the woman is positively the worst Russia analyst ever to achieve major status under three successive Presidents, and is a major-level policy coward and appeaser - and lifted sanctions on Nordstream II - something that amounts to actually rewarding Vladimir Putin for hacking the 2016 election.

However, there was one tiny chink of light. Biden looked Putin in the eye. Here’s what he said:

"I looked at him and said: 'How would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?' He said: 'It would matter,'" Biden told reporters at an unusual solo news conference, itself an illustration of the tensions between the two nations.

The query referred to a cyberattack that closed the Colonial Pipeline Co (COLPI.UL) system for several days in May, preventing millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from flowing to the East Coast from the Gulf Coast.

Biden also vowed to take action against any Russian cyberattacks: "I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability. And he knows it."

Well, Mr. President, now’s the time to put America’s money where your mouth was.

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Sir, do not repeat the biggest mistake of President Obama - apart from not going hard enough on Trump and Russia during the 2016 election - when Obama said, via then Secretary of State John Kerry, that if Assad used chemical weapons in Syria it would be a “red line”, and then did nothing whatsoever about it.

America looked weak and Assad moved on the people of Syria with appalling brutality. No, scratch that, America was weak. All the strength on earth doesn’t matter if the President won’t use it.

The ransomware group that hit US companies yesterday is exactly and precisely the same Russian ransomware group that Biden spoke to Putin about. As well as attacking America on the 4th weekend, these Russians use references praising Trump and calling Biden a pedophile (yes, really):

And in a nod as to how the Internet Research Agency fanned and promoted racial tension in Ferguson and elsewhere, the Russian ransomware actors openly trolled President Biden to his face by putting BLACKLIVESMATTER into their ransom code.

Make no mistake, this is intended as a deliberate insult to America. With Fiona Hill and co pouring surrender into the President’s ears, Biden has lifted sanctions on Nordstream II, granted Putin a summit he desperately wanted, and now - obviously, a chosen date on the 4th of July - Putin has sent the exact same Russian ransomware gang to attack America again. Vlad is testing POTUS. He wants to see if, as Biden equally disastrously withdraws our tiny force from Afghanistan on the 4th of July, he can push Joe around the way Assad pushed Obama around. Clearly, Putin thinks, Biden hates the idea of confrontation abroad.

And that’s understandable. We all hate it. But Joe Biden combined his softness towards Russia with a threat to shut down the pipelines from their oil fields. Putin is deliberately adding insult to injury to test Joe’s strength of character. Vladimir Putin thinks Fiona Hill will prevail again and Joe Biden will chicken out and settle for a sternly-worded letter to the Russian ambassador, perhaps even a stiff telling-off at the White House, without coffee.

I cannot stress enough that bullies only understand strength. Unless President Biden wants to see four straight years of Putin attacking America consequence-free, he needs to shut down those pipelines, reinstate the Nordstream II sanctions, and otherwise truly hit Russia where it actually hurts. No more appeasement, Mr. President. And please, sir, quietly retire Fiona Hill.

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