It’s time for Joe Biden to put his money where his mouth is and stand up to Vladimir Putin

Article published in The Daily Express, 6 June 2024. © Richard Kemp

Vladimir Putin was not invited to the 80th anniversary commemoration of D-Day. But he was an honoured guest at the 70th in 2014, even though just months earlier his forces had invaded Ukraine the first time. His presence at Normandy then symbolised the West’s preference for appeasement over confrontation. In the face of Putin’s aggression, we imposed sanctions that Russia shrugged off, went through the motions of ineffective deal-making and returned as quickly as possible to business as usual — opening the door to a follow-up invasion in February 2022.

And the door was wide open when Putin marched in. European nations had shown him their abject weakness, failing to make any attempt to re-arm following the 2014 invasion or any of Putin’s other aggressions. And Biden opened it wider still with his abandonment of an ally of 20 years by catastrophically pulling out of Afghanistan in 2021, signalling to Putin he had nothing to fear from the White House.

In his speech at Normandy on Thursday, Biden told us: ‘Hitler and those with him thought democracies were weak and the future belonged to dictators.’ He went on to speak about the need now to stand up against present-day despots like Putin. Biden and his allies might talk the talk but they are certainly not walking the walk. After more than two years of war, Ukraine is still in dire straits, with NATO nations failing to provide anything like sufficient combat power to enable it to push the Russians back.

Nor are Biden and his European allies making any serious effort to present a united front against that other anti-Western despot and Putin collaborator, Ayatollah Khamanei in Iran, whose proxies including Hamas and Hizballah are violently attacking our Israeli allies. Instead they have been doing all they can to restrain Jerusalem from achieving victory over its attackers. On top of that, desperate to appease Khamanei, they have failed to take any serious action to prevent Iranian export of attack drones to Russia and done their best to turn a blind eye to Tehran’s accelerating nuclear weapons programme.

More than 550,000 people were killed in the invasion of Normandy which began on D-Day. This solemn anniversary should remind us why it is so important that we make sure the death and destruction of another Europe-wide war never happens again. With Putin rampant in Ukraine, and his eyes undoubtedly on other prizes closer to home, that can only be achieved by strength: supporting our allies and building up our own defences, neither of which Western governments seem willing to properly commit to. Cold-shouldering Putin at Normandy is not enough.

Image: Wikimedia Commons