UK MPs criticize 'distracted' Biden for reluctance to support Ukraine ahead of potential invasion by Russia

UK MPs criticize 'distracted' Biden for reluctance to support Ukraine ahead of potential invasion by Russia
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President Joe Biden delivers a speech on infrastructure while visiting the NH 175 bridge spanning the Pemigewasset River on November 16, 2021 in Woodstock, New Hampshire
President Joe Biden.John Tully/Getty Images
  • Joe Biden's focus on domestic policy is leaving a 'vacuum' of leadership, UK MPs told Insider.

  • It came as the UK shipped weapons to Ukraine ahead of a possible invasion from Russia.

  • British lawmakers characterized other nations' responses as "supine" in comparison.

British MPs criticized a "distracted" Joe Biden for the deteriorating situation on the border of Ukraine, as a Russian invasion appeared increasingly likely.

In recent weeks Ukraine has urged the likes of the US, UK, and Germany to provide military aid to help counter the buildup of Russian troops at its border.

While the UK has sent anti-tank weapons and a small number of British troops. Biden has so far ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine. He too has sent weaponry, though the main focus on the White House has been economic sanctions.

Several MPs told Insider they believed the US President's focus on domestic policy and the Indo-Pacific caused a "vacuum" in global leadership that "has been taken advantage of" by Russia's President.

One Conservative MP, who only spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Biden had "taken his eye off the ball."

The MP also suggested that the 79-year-old may be too old for so demanding a job, asking: "Would you want your dad with his finger on the button?"

Others did not attack Biden's age, but did suggest his inaction was causing the situation to deteriorate.

Tobias Ellwood MP, a former defence minister who served as an officer in the British Army, said Biden's insular approach was one of several "different planets that are aligning here, leading us to instability and potential conflicts".

Ellwood, who is chairman of the House of Commons defence committee, said Washington under Biden has shown a "distracted and somewhat risk-averse" attitude towards geopolitics. He drew a link between the US stance on Ukraine and what he called the "very short-sighted" decision to pull out of Afghanistan, leading to its takeover by the Taliban.

"Somebody has to lead the West, and at the moment we are rudderless," he said.

"We are in for a very dangerous few years. I am not sure you could find anybody who thinks global civility is going to increase over the next few years rather than decrease."

Ellwood claimed that the US exit from Afghanistan "sent a message across the world" that the West is no longer up for the fight, which was being picked up by Russia, China and Iran.

"Ukraine is just a pawn in a bigger game," he said.

Another MP, who also requested anonymity, said the "vacuum" led to a feeling that "the reins would be passed over to the UK" when it came to dealing with Russia and Eastern Europe.

He added that some in the US had "raised an eyebrow" at the UK's plans to target the Indo-Pacific region, as "the US felt the UK needed to take care of its own backyard".

Ellwood — who has long sought a more robust role for Britain in world affairs — argued such ambitions were being thwarted by domestic problems in the UK.

He pointed to the "partygate" scandal engulfing UK politics, in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been left fighting for his political life by reports that he and his team held parties despite lockdown rules forbidding them.

"We are at the centre of a storm here, but we forget this is being watched across the world," he told Insider. "It is unpleasant to see our stock diminish as we go through this troubled chapter."

Asked if he thought the troubles in Britain would embolden Putin, Ellwood replied: "Absolutely right — how could you possibly muster the support to stand up to Putin, when the Prime Minister is struggling to command authority within his own party?

"It will be a factor, knowing that Britain – which might assume greater leadership at a moment of international crisis – will not have the appetite to do so."

Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight, said "Western complacency" had contributed to the situation. Seely said both the US and EU had been "supine", resulting in a "lack of leadership in the Western world".

Seely also painted a bleak picture of how Russia could respond to economic sanctions, predicting an increase in cyber warfare, assets of Western firms in Russia being seized, and "maybe some more assassinations."

"Russia has a broad tool box," Seely told Insider. "Putin will want to fight back."

Read the original article on Business Insider