A sympathetic commentariat suggests that President Joe Biden is deterring Vladimir Putin over his threat to invade Ukraine.

Jennifer Rubin claims that Biden "has effectively drawn a red line" for Putin. Rubin points to national security adviser Jake Sullivan's "unsubtle threat" to shut down Nord Stream 2 if Putin does invade. Unfortunately, Sullivan's threat to the Russo-German pipeline was always utterly unserious. Any opportunity for Western leverage died when the Biden administration ended the Trump administration's sanctions.

But less than 24 hours after Sullivan made his threat, new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has put it to bed. Interviewed on his first day in office, Scholz observed that the pipeline's certification process was "a perfectly orderly procedure, which is now carefully moving forward." The chancellor strongly hinted which way certification would go. "Many decisions have already been made," he said. "Otherwise, the pipeline would not have been built."

Thanks, Olaf!

That's one less thing for Putin to worry about, then.

Absurdly, however, rather than make clear to Putin that the United States will stand up for those allies most under Russian threat, Biden decided on Wednesday to do the opposite. The president pledged to "discuss the future of Russia's concerns relative to NATO writ large and whether or not we can work out any accommodations when it comes to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front."

Timing does not appear to be a strong suit for this administration. Biden's latest folly comes just one day after the White House claimed that Biden's support for NATO and democratic sovereignty are unyielding.

Regardless, the implication of Biden's words is clear. When he talks about the "temperature along the eastern front," Biden is deferring to three Putin demands. First, Russia's demand that the U.S. not deploy intermediate-range missiles and not conduct strategic/intelligence flights near Russian borders. Second, that the U.S. will commit to not expanding NATO. Third, that the U.S. should qualify its support for Ukraine.

Although largely ignored, Biden has already been giving ground to Putin on each of these concerns over the past few months.

U.S. European Command has been directed to provide the White House with reports on all air operations proximate to Russia and their "justification." This action restrains the Pentagon's deterrence action in fear of upsetting Putin (Biden totally ignores the fact that the Russian air force engages in far more aggressive action against NATO airspace). Biden has also slow-rolled new arms transfers to Ukraine and canceled at least one U.S. Navy deployment to the Black Sea.

Candidate Biden said he'd get tough on Putin. At least when it comes to Russia, President Biden is making his predecessor look like Ronald Reagan.