Joe Biden Administration faces big challenges

President Biden, send a message to backers of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua at summit (Photo: Miami Herald)

Joe Biden began his presidency amid the worst pandemic in a century and in the wake of the most violent challenge to American democracy since the Civil War.

Now he faces a revival of the Cold War.

“Russia has now undeniably moved against Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement in the East Room of the White House, calling the incursion a “flagrant” violation of international law. His voice rising in outrage, he demanded: “Who in the Lord’s name does (Russian President Vladimir) Putin think gives them the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belong to his neighbors?”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the latest crisis in a presidency that has been full of them. Biden will be tested on his ability to deliver on the tough threats he made to Moscow in recent weeks and to hold together the NATO alliance. It is an opportunity for him to demonstrate to the world that he is a sure-footed leader – a reputation undercut last year by the hasty U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He also has a selling job to do at home.

In a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll taken Feb. 15-20, before new Russian troops had been ordered into eastern Ukraine, Americans disapproved by double digits of the way Biden has handled the situation there, 49%-34%. By nearly two to one, 63%-32%, those surveyed said he was not a strong leader, one of the core characteristics of successful presidents.

There is skepticism about the steps he has taken. Though almost half (45%) supported the idea of imposing economic sanctions on Russia, only one in four endorsed increasing military hardware supplies to Ukraine or deploying U.S. troops to the region to bolster NATO allies.

A building was hit by a large-caliber mortar shell in the village of Krymske, eastern Ukraine, in February.
A building was hit by a large-caliber mortar shell in the village of Krymske, eastern Ukraine, in February.

Most Americans agreed the United States needs to respond in some way to a Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. One in five, 19%, said the nation should “do nothing.”

The Yucatan Times