The Biden administration has made a "real mistake" by concentrating its efforts on Ukraine based on the scenario of an all-out invasion by Russia rather than the many other options President Vladimir Putin has open to him while he's trying to divide NATO, former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Wednesday on Newsmax.
"Putin has a wide range of options open to him," Bolton, who was once former President Donald Trump's national security adviser, said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "I think that he's trying to see if he can split NATO. He's trying to see how much he can get for the lowest possible cost."
Meanwhile, time remains on Putin's side, said Bolton, as he's not losing anything by waiting to make his move.
"This is not a strain on Russia or Putin," Bolton said. "He's making money off this. The price of oil remains over $90 a barrel. It's Ukraine that is suffering economic consequences. As people pull out, insurance rates go up. Europeans are going to suffer from high natural-gas prices."
The former ambassador added that he does not think Putin is worried about President Joe Biden's threats of sanctions should an invasion take place
"The sanctions are intended to create deterrence against the military, the Russian military coming across but they are all threats of future punishment," said Bolton. "I don't think Putin believes that. I think he's seen America and the West threaten sanctions when he went into Georgia and when he went into Ukraine before. He's watched the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He's not worried, so our failure to impose costs on Russia now, unfortunately, encourages the thinking that he won't suffer consequences later."
Biden is also talking about stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if an invasion happens, but he made a "big mistake" during the first month of his administration when he waived potential sanctions, said Bolton.
"That was the signal to Putin that he didn't want to have a difficult relationship," said Bolton. "Honestly, we should have cut off Nord Stream 2 in the Trump administration, but we didn't."
But if Germany comes to the point if it cuts off Nord Stream 2, "Putin is going to cut off Nord Stream 1, which is carrying gas into Germany. If you think the price of natural gas is high, wait until that supply cuts off. Putin has a lot of alternatives here."
The United States also faces the threat of "very extensive" cyberattacks from Russia, said Bolton, commenting after Ukraine's Defense Ministry and two state-linked banks were attacked Tuesday.
"We saw yesterday what I think was a warning shot," said Bolton. "So when people say Well, Putin wants negotiation; he's withdrawing troops, he is also increasing the cyberoffensive against the United States. We know going back years they've tried to interfere in our elections. They've done a lot of things that China, Iran, and Korea, North Korea have also done."
Americans must get used to the threat of cyberwarfare, Bolton added, and the nation has "a long way to go" until it can face that threat.
Biden also made a "crazy move" when stopping the domestic oil production that had grown under Trump, and Russia and others will take advantage of that, said Bolton.
"Biden said in his speech yesterday that Americans could face higher prices of oil," he continued. "Financial analysts have speculated that it may go to $120 a barrel. So if you're Joe Biden, you're trying to get inflation down. Watching that price at the pump go up cannot be good news, and Putin knows that."
The growing relationship between Russia and China is also "very serious," Bolton told Newsmax.
"I think China is watching how Biden handles Ukraine because they've got their eyes on Taiwan and other potential targets in the east and southeast Asia," he said. "Those who are saying forget about the Middle East, forget about Europe are wrong. While we certainly should view China as the most serious threat to the United States in the 21st century there are plenty of other threats and China's working in this case with Russia, so it's a broad global threat that we face."
However, Bolton said he doesn't think China wants to invade Taiwan in a full-scale attack, "because they don't want to inherit a smoking ruin."
"This is why what Biden does in Ukraine is so important," said Bolton. "If they think Biden is weak, China will fabricate a crisis over Taiwan and hope that Biden backs down."
Meanwhile, the administration, by increasing American and other NATO forces in countries near Ukraine has demonstrated NATO's strength, but "Ukraine's on the wrong side of the line" and that means the risk to Ukraine is increased.
"We should have decided before if a threat to Ukraine is a threat to stability on the European continent as a whole, and if you ask the Europeans, they definitely think it is," said Bolton.
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