CNN’s Dana Bash Grills NatSec Adviser Jake Sullivan on Biden-Putin Summit: ‘Why Are You Giving In to Russia’ on Pipeline?


CNN’s Dana Bash pressed White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Sullivan spoke to Bash on Sunday for State of the Union, and the CNN host began by referring to the Washington Post editorial board’s assessment that “there is no reason to believe the outcome [of the summit] will vary from previous U.S. attempts at cooperation with Mr. Putin.” When asked if he had any specific reason to be optimistic about the summit’s outcome, Sullivan responded by noting the testy part of Biden’s press conference where he denied being optimistic about any major change in the foreseeable future.

“He’s not taking anything for granted out of this meeting,” said Sullivan. “In fact, when he was asked whether he was confident, he said that’s not the right word. Confidence is not the right word. Optimistic isn’t the right word. The right word is verification, being able to test and see whether, in fact, the relationship does get on to a more stable and predictable basis.”

Bash continued by asking Sullivan why the Biden administration hasn’t leveled more sanctions against Russia for their human rights abuses and persecution of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

“Why haven’t you sanctioned Russia again for poisoning Alexei Navalny?” She said. “Are more sanctions coming?

Sullivan retorted that the White House is working to penalize Russia for their malfeasance, saying “we’ve shown all along the way we’re not going to pull punches, whether it’s on SolarWinds, or election interference, or Navalny when it comes to responding to Russia’s harmful activities.”

Bash concluded her questions on Russia by asking why didn’t Biden take time during the Putin summit to challenge the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

“Why are you giving in to Russia on this pipeline?” she asked.

“We have, in fact, sanctioned several Russian entities when it comes to Nord Stream 2,” Sullivan countered. “We waived sanctions only on 2, and they were not Russian. It was a German individual and a Swiss company…When President Biden took office, Nord Stream 2 was 90 percent complete. That happened under the Trump administration. The question to us was will we go after, directly, using our sanctions power, our European allies and friends, and there, President Biden said I’m not prepared to do that.”

Watch above, via CNN.

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