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It Looks Like Biden Botched a Major Administration Talking Point on Sanctions During His National Address

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

A key takeaway from President Joe Biden's national address about Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, as Katie highlighted earlier, was that he will continue to impose sanctions, but is stopping just short of the most serious kind. The president took questions this time, though that' not so say it went well. In addition to many less-than-inspiring exchanges with reporters on the Russian leader, as Matt highlighted, Biden also made some startling points in stark contrast to claims others, including his own Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have made.

"Sir, sanctions clearly have not been enough to deter Vladimir Putin to this point," ABC News's Cecilia Vega pointed out in her question. "What is going to stop him? How and when does this end?"

Biden went on to casually claim that "no one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening," as he also pointed out "this is going to take time. And we have to show resolve so he knows what’s coming and so the people of Russia know what he’s brought on them. That’s what this is all about."

The president also seemed to dismiss the effect that sanctions would have. "This is going to take time.  It’s not going to occur — he’s going to say, 'Oh my God, these sanctions are coming.  I’m going to stand down.'" Biden went on to suggest what Putin's aims may be, then. "He’s going to test the resolve of the West to see if we stay together.  And we will. We will and it will impose significant costs on him."

Less than a week ago, Blinken appeared on a multitude of Sunday shows, where he told each host that asked that sanctions were not at that time being imposed because they were meant to have a deterrent effect. As I've covered, this narrative has been cited by Blinken for weeks. This talking point narrative was repeated by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on "Fox News Sunday."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) made his own appearance on "Fox News Sunday," and blasted Biden outright, saying "Joe Biden becoming president is the best thing that ever happened, tragically, for Vladimir Putin." The senator also reminded host Bill Hemmer that last month he had introduced a bill that received a majority of support in the Senate to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, with a vote of 55-44. It failed to overcome the filibuster, though. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had been asking for sanctions to be imposed. 

Biden ultimately imposed those sanctions on Nord Stream 2 on Wednesday, as Katie covered. Cruz praised the president at the time for taking such a step, though he ultimately continued to call out "weakness" from the United States towards Putin.

After Biden's address, a piece from Cristina Marcos and Mike Lillis was published for The Hill which highlighted lawmakers calling on the president to impose harsher sanctions. These include Democrats, too, such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell, both of New Jersey.

Thursday's address got off to a late start, at 1:43pm, as has also been typical of this administration. It was initially supposed to be at 12pm noon on Thursday, as Matt highlighted, which was late enough, considering the invasion of Ukraine had happened approximately 12 hours prior. 

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