Republicans at CPAC are buzzing that the Ukraine invasion isn't Putin's fault — it's Biden's

Republicans at CPAC are buzzing that the Ukraine invasion isn't Putin's fault — it's Biden's
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Ted Cruz at CPAC
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas attends the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 24, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. There, Cruz blamed President Joe Biden for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Vladimir Putin didn't invade Ukraine during the Trump era, conservatives at CPAC noted.

  • President Joe Biden doesn't strike fear in anyone, CPAC-ers said.

  • Foreign aggression is "going to get worse, unfortunately," one GOP consultant warned.

ORLANDO, Florida — Numerous Republicans watching Russia's invasion of Ukraine from the safety of sunny Florida blamed the new war on one man: President Joe Biden.

Attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin didn't invade any countries while former President Donald Trump was in office. So Putin's decision to pounce now is proof that Biden is feeble — a world leader without the world's respect.

Sen. Ted Cruz said Biden "immediately projected weakness" upon taking office, prompting Putin to pursue ambitions that Trump would have never allowed.

"Unfortunately, the Biden White House made a political decision to surrender to Russia and to surrender to Putin," the Texas Republican told reporters at CPAC.

Biden "shut down our energy production while opening up Russia's has only emboldened Russia," said GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.

He blamed Biden for lifting sanctions on the oil pipeline and denying Ukraine lethal aid, as well as the "chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal" that he said played into Putin's perceptions.

"His weakness has played a big part of this," Hawley said of Biden.

Alex Brusewitz, CEO of X Strategies LLC, which is advising 21 GOP candidates this election cycle, laid the blame for the current global instability exclusively at Biden's feet.

"Every country in the world saw what happened in Afghanistan. And that's the moment they realized that they can get away with whatever the hell they want with this administration," Brusewitz told Insider, harkening back to the US troop withdrawal in August 2021 that technically ended the 20-year conflict launched by then-President George W. Bush.

Biden delivering a speech at the White House
President Joe Biden speaks about the Ukraine crisis from the White House on February 15, 2022.Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Biden: 'Russia alone is responsible'

For his part, Biden blamed "Russia alone" for the invasion.

"President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," Biden said Wednesday. "Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable."

But Gary Adkins, a first-time GOP candidate from Fredericksburg, Virginia, running to unseat two-term Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, said the timing of Putin's assault on Ukraine was very telling.

"These things are a result of the fact that they smelled the weakness at our national level," Adkins told Insider while networking at CPAC.

The Air Force veteran said he didn't have any problem with Trump complimenting Putin's "savvy," calling the Russian president a "very smart, intelligent guy" who saw an opportunity and exploited it.

"Before, we had a really strong leader that said, 'No, we're not gonna permit that kind of stuff,'" Adkins said of the difference between Biden and Trump.

In Adkins' mind, Biden lost this battle back in January by saying "minor incursions" wouldn't necessarily spark retaliation during a White House press conference.

"I think that just gave a green light for Putin to go ahead and do what he wanted to do," Adkins said.

The only reason it didn't happen sooner, Adkins estimated, was because Putin wanted his comrades to gather all the gold medals they could during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

"As soon as the Olympics were over, he moved. Right?" Adkins said.

"[Putin]'s taking tactical advantage of the situation, of a weak presidency and a weak American economy based on the Democratic position running our country," said Ron Eller, who is running for Congress in Mississippi and hoped to receive Trump's endorsement

Eller is running to unseat Democratic Rep. Benny Thompson, chairman of the committee that is investigating the January 6 siege at the US Capitol.

Several CPAC attendees said they hoped Trump would directly address the situation in Ukraine during his scheduled Saturday evening speech at the conference.

George Santos, who is running for Congress in New York, said he hoped Ukraine would be a "big talking point." He predicted the invasion wouldn't have happened if Trump was in the White House, noting that Russia invaded Crimea under the Obama administration.

"I strongly believe this is just a reflection of weak leadership," he said.

He and other Republicans at the conference also said they hoped the US wouldn't put troops on the ground.

"I am not an interventionist," Santos said, "and what I liked about Trump was that neither was he.

Read the original article on Business Insider