Russia has been invading Ukraine for nearly 8 months, and President Biden believes that Putin miscalculated his abilities.
President Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly”, in a sit-down interview with Jake Tapper on CNN.
A rational actor is someone who is the decision-maker, and their decisions have both a rational goal, and, those who seek a beneficial outcome as a result of their decision. However, the decision needs to be well thought through. Of course, something as simple as running for reelection is a simple deduction, there is no harm or threat to others. However, a “rational actor” would need to be more complicated in weighing the pros and cons a takeover of a foreign country.
Biden’s decision to call Putin a “rational actor” delegitimizes Ukraine’s sovereignty, and also raises questions as to why the American government has decided to spend over $50 billion in assisting Ukraine against Russian aggression.
Russia is, of course, much larger than Ukraine, with a larger army and better technology. Putin likely believed these factors would have led to a quick and easy domination of Ukraine, but now that in conflict is approaching 8 months, taking Ukraine could be a more difficult battle than Putin imagined.
“I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly,” Biden told Jake Tapper as Russian bombardments on civilian targets in Ukraine signaled another turning point in the months-long war.
Biden, who warned last week the risk of “nuclear Armageddon” was at its highest level in 60 years, said in the interview that threats emanating from Russia could result in catastrophic “mistakes” and “miscalculation,” even as he declined to spell out how precisely the United States would respond if Putin deploys a tactical nuclear device on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Biden, his top officials and fellow Western leaders have spent the past several months debating what steps Putin may take as his troops suffer embarrassing losses on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Whether Putin is acting rationally has been a subject of intense debate as leaders work to predict his next steps. While Biden said Tuesday he believed Putin himself was rational, he characterized the Russian leader’s aims in Ukraine – which Putin laid out in an angry speech as he launched the war in February – as ridiculous.
This week, however, Russia launched one of its fiercest bombing campaigns since invading in late February. At least 19 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded across the country, as far away as the western city of Lviv, hundreds of miles from the war’s main theaters in eastern and southern Ukraine.
After Biden warned last week the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” was at its highest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis, he told Tapper he didn’t believe Putin would ultimately take that step.
“I don’t think he will,” Biden said when asked by Tapper whether the Russian leader would use a tactical nuclear weapon – a prospect US officials have watched with concern as Russian troops suffer embarrassing losses on the battlefield.
“I think it’s irresponsible for him to talk about it, the idea that a world leader of one of the largest nuclear powers in the world says he may use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine,” Biden added.
Biden said even Putin’s threats have a destabilizing effect, and warned of the potential errors in judgment that could ensue.
For Biden, the decision was a particular affront because of his efforts over the summer to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom’s woeful human rights record and bin Salman’s role in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden’s warning of that “nuclear Armageddon” was at its highest level in 60 years, since the Cuban Missle Crisis, scared many Americans. His decision to them tell Jake Tapper during the CNN interview that he didn’t believe Putin would end up taking steps towards a nuclear armageddon lead to mixed messaging that leaves many confused about the situation.