NBC Brings on Obama’s Russia Ambassador to Praise Biden on Ukraine

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On Wednesday, NBC’s Today show brought on former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine and heap praise on President Biden’s failed foreign policy. Given McFaul’s diplomatic tenure in Moscow occurred during the Obama administration and ended just prior to Vladimir Putin’s initial 2014 invasion of Ukraine, perhaps he wasn’t the best person to talk to about how to successfully counter Russian aggression.

“Well, let me ask you, are these sanctions that really bite? Do they go far enough? Should the U.S. have thrown everything it’s got right away at the first sight of an invasion?,” co-host Savannah Guthrie asked McFaul at the top of the exchange. The Democrat applauded Biden despite the complete failure to deter Putin: “Well, I think they were good. I think it was a good start. The President was very strong yesterday, calling this an invasion for what it was…..So I thought it was the right response.”

Alluding to past appeasement of Putin – though without actually pointing a finger at the Obama administration – Guthrie wondered: “And from his perspective, for a moment, he [Putin] has taken some pretty big risks on the world stage and probably felt that he didn’t have much consequence. Do you think that’s how he views this situation?”

Ignoring his own role in that appeasement, McFaul warned:

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Savannah, tragically, yes. He’s comfortable with war. He’s gone to war four times already as president and prime minister. Chechnya, 1999. Georgia, 2008. Ukraine, the first time he invaded, 2014. Syria, 2015. And every time he won. So that tempts him, that emboldens him, tragically, to be – take this risky behavior. And I think he thinks that war serves his interests.

Guthrie then asked if anything could be done to stand up to Russia: “And so what does the U.S., what does the west, what does NATO really have to – to respond to this?” Seeking to absolve the Biden administration of responsibility, McFaul gave a resounding no: “Well, tragically, let’s be honest, not very much. The President has said we’re not going to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. He has done, I think – you know, the cards he has in his hands, he’s played well.”

After touting “the sanctions that are coming,” “military assistance to the Ukrainians,” and “bolstered NATO forces on the front-line states,” McFaul still admitted: “But having said all that, that is not enough to deter Putin. Tragically, I think he’s gonna go in. He’s gonna go in big. And this will probably be the largest war in Europe since 1939.”

Guthrie thanked him for his analysis that there’s supposedly nothing Biden can do: “Ambassador McFaul, you’ve sat face to face with Vladimir Putin many, many times. Disturbing perspective, but a good one to have.”

Despite McFaul claiming that Biden had played his cards well in the Ukraine crisis, a new Gallup poll found only 36% of Americans approve of the President’s handling of Russia versus 55% disapproving. Of course the Today show coverage never mentioned those findings.

This lame attempt to use an Obama administration official to cover for Biden’s disastrous foreign policy failures was brought to viewers by Google and Citi. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a full transcript of the February 23 segment:

7:10 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And joining us now is Michael McFaul, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration. Mr. Ambassador, good morning to you, sir.

MICHAEL MCFAUL: Good to see you, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Well, let me ask you, are these sanctions that really bite? Do they go far enough? Should the U.S. have thrown everything it’s got right away at the first sight of an invasion?

MCFAUL: Well, I think they were good. I think it was a good start. The President was very strong yesterday, calling this an invasion for what it was. When those soldiers moved into those break-away republics, they were moving into the Ukrainian territory. So I thought it was the right response. But he hasn’t thrown everything at them yet that they are planning because they expect that this invasion will escalate and they want to have something to do when it finally does escalate as widely as the President himself has already warned the American people.

GUTHRIE: A lot of folks are asking whether diplomacy is still available. Some say, is there a face-saving way for Vladimir Putin to get out of this? Does he care about that?

MCFAUL: Well, first of all, he doesn’t care about face-saving. Who’s he saving his face in front of? You know, the generals, the Russian people? It’s a dictatorship in Russia. Second, I listened to his speech. He gave an hour-long speech last night – or two nights ago by now. It was an angry speech, it was a rambling speech, it went on about history. It basically was a justification for Russia to seize Ukraine, a country that he doesn’t believe should exist. And Ukrainians, as an ethnicity, he doesn’t think exist. They’re part of Russia. So I didn’t hear anything in that speech that suggested that he was interested in diplomacy.

GUTHRIE: And from his perspective, for a moment, he has taken some pretty big risks on the world stage and probably felt that he didn’t have much consequence. Do you think that’s how he views this situation?

MCFAUL: Savannah, tragically, yes. He’s comfortable with war. He’s gone to war four times already as president and prime minister. Chechnya, 1999. Georgia, 2008. Ukraine, the first time he invaded, 2014. Syria, 2015. And every time he won. So that tempts him, that emboldens him, tragically, to be – take this risky behavior. And I think he thinks that war serves his interests.

GUTHRIE: And so what does the U.S., what does the west, what does NATO really have to – to respond to this?

MCFAUL: Well, tragically, let’s be honest, not very much. The President has said we’re not going to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. He has done, I think – you know, the cards he has in his hands, he’s played well. So the sanctions that are coming, I think will be comprehensive and difficult for the Russian economy. Two, he’s given military assistance to the Ukrainians, that’s the right thing to do. And three, as you just reported, you just showed us, they bolstered NATO forces on the front-line states, vis-a-vis Russia. But having said all that, that is not enough to deter Putin. Tragically, I think he’s gonna go in. He’s gonna go in big. And this will probably be the largest war in Europe since 1939.

GUTHRIE: Ambassador McFaul, you’ve sat face to face with Vladimir Putin many, many times. Disturbing perspective, but a good one to have. Thank you so much for your time.

MCFAUL: Sure, thanks for having me.

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