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White House press secretary Jen Psaki has suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s isolation during the pandemic could affect his decision-making as he continues his deadly invasion of Ukraine.
Lawmakers have increasingly questioned Putin’s sanity following not only his decision to launch a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, but also a speech he gave suggesting that his military objectives exceed those of Kiev.
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“The speech he gave last week…was someone who not only justified the invasion of a sovereign country, but clearly had ambitions beyond that,” Psaki told the ‘This Week’ presenter. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio took to Twitter this week to question Putin’s sensitivity and said, “I wish I could share more, but for now I can say he is pretty obvious to many that something is wrong with Putin.”
“He was always a killer, but now his problem is different and important. It would be a mistake to assume that this Putin would react the same way he did 5 years ago,” he added.
Psaki said she would not comment on Putin’s mental stability, but said it had become clear the Kremlin leader was operating under different international rules.
“One of the mistakes we’re all probably making is looking at this through the prism of global norms and what the global community sees as behavior people should adopt as leaders in the world,” he said. she declared. “That’s not how he sees the world.
“He’s obviously been quite isolated during COVID,” Psaki added. “But I’ll tell you, certainly the rhetoric, the actions, the justification that he makes for his actions is certainly of deep concern to us.”
Ukrainian forces held off Russian troops for four days despite the significant military buildup Moscow amassed ahead of its invasion this week.
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Senior defense officials said on Saturday that more than 50% of the 150,000 troops stationed along Ukraine’s border had invaded the country.
But Russia has so far been unable to gain air superiority or take full control of a Ukrainian city.
The United States and its Western allies imposed severe sanctions not only on Russian banks and companies, but also on Putin and senior Russian leaders.
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Key NATO allies such as Germany dropped earlier reservations about extreme reactive measures such as Russia’s withdrawal from the SWIFT international banking system and Psaki said on Saturday that 80% of Russia’s financial sector was targeted by penalties.
“The sanctions we announced yesterday are on par – put Russia on par – with Iran, cutting them off from a banking system with the global community,” Psaki said. “This makes it very difficult for President Putin and the Russian government not only to do business, but also to help fund further expansion of their military.”