So much for Biden's bluster about "severe sanctions" that would be imposed if Russia invades Ukraine.
On Monday's Morning Joe, NBC international correspondent Keir Simmons [who's never been accused of anti-Democrat bias], reporting from Moscow, repeatedly said that Putin's "not frightened" by Biden's threatened sanctions.
Simmons pointed to the fact that Russia has built up huge dollar reserves in recent years. And that Putin's close cronies are already sanctioned and cannot leave Russia. To the contrary, Putin could play the card, Simmons suggested, of cutting off gas supplies to Germany, causing a "panic" there.
As Ted Cruz pointed out over the weekend, the "fecklessness" that Biden displayed in his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan made a Russian move on Ukraine--and a Chinese move on Taiwan--much more likely.
Simmons also scoffed at the significance of the potential Biden-Putin summit, suggesting that, at best: "I guess they can delay things."
So what cards does Biden really have to play? Simmons didn't name any.
When even NBC/MSNBC doubt Biden's sanctions strategy, you know things aren't looking good on the Ukrainian front.
On Morning Joe, NBC's Keir Simmons saying that Putin "isn't frightened" by Biden's sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine was sponsored in part by Subway, Comcast, and Pfizer, maker of Nexium.
Here's the transcript.
6:07 am ET
WILLIE GEIST: There is a sense that Putin's playing games here. What's your sense of it?
KEIR SIMMONS: Well, Willie, I think diplomatically speaking, you heard Matt there talk about the changes on the ground in detail, the daily changes. Diplomatically speaking, nothing's really changed, and that's the issue. Those negotiations that President Macron is trying to push, I guess they can delay things, certainly we may see a delay until Secretary Blinken and Mr. Lavrov meet later this week, if they do indeed meet. Maybe there will be a delay until President Putin and President Biden can meet.
But the reality is that fundamentally Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, isn't going to start implementing Minsk, and the Russians have been building dollar reserves for years and years, going back to President Putin's famous speech in Munich, they now have $630 billion, more than, in reserves.
And when you look at that, that pretty much tells you that President Putin has been preparing for this day for many, many years. And why I say that is because when the Secretary of State talked on Meet the press yesterday, he talked about massive sanctions.
To put it in a visceral sense, fundamentally President Putin isn't frightened. He's not frightened, because his inner circle are already sanctioned. They can't leave Russia. He's not frightened because he has those reserves. And I think he's not frightened, too, because he knows potentially his next moves down the line might be to cut off the gas to Russia [corrects himself]--to cut off the gas to Germany, causing panic in Germany. Maybe some kind of a massive cyberattack.
And that really explains why there's such a huge risk here, because of course, once conflict starts, you don't know what direction it may go in. So, of course, it's important that there continues to be efforts for diplomatic talks, but we are really in the last chance saloon, I think.