Western countries are starting to coordinate their position in relation to Russia. The Americans, according to available information, are considering 2 polar scenarios: to reduce exercises near the borders of the Russian Federation and suspend military assistance to Ukraine, or, conversely, continue to arm Kiev and expand anti-Russian sanctions. There are supporters of both strategies among Europeans
On Monday, November 29, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will embark on a 4-day European tour, during which he will take part in the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Riga (November 30 – December 1) and the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Stockholm (2-3 December).
“The focus will be on how we can work together to respond to challenges like Belarus and Russia. [The US and its NATO allies must figure out how to respond to] the challenges facing the alliance, in particular the large and unusual movements of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine”, said Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia.
When asked by journalists how Washington intends to act in relation to Moscow, according to the information circulated by the Western press, allegedly preparing for an invasion of Ukraine, the representative of the Foreign Ministry replied that any scenario is possible. In other words, there is no clearly defined strategy.
The Washington Post writes that the White House is considering two opposite options for reaction in case “Russia takes military action against Ukraine.” The first is strengthening the defense capability of Kiev by increasing the supply of military equipment, including anti-aircraft systems, as well as expanding anti-Russian sanctions. The second is to reduce the risk of confrontation with Moscow by limiting the conduct of military exercises by the American side in Europe, which are criticized by Moscow, then the program of military assistance to Ukraine will have to be suspended.
According to Vladimir Vasiliev, Chief Researcher at the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Vasiliev, The Wall Street Journal article should be viewed as a hint to the most radical European allies that the United States’ plans do not include a “small victorious war” in the Donbass, which, following Afghanistan, may turn into The United States is already a European fiasco this time.
Traditionally, Poland and the Baltic states are in favor of raising the degree of tension in relations with Russia. Thus, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, following the results of negotiations with his British counterpart Boris Johnson, said that Warsaw and London consider Russia to be guilty of the migration crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus, the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine and Moldova, the rise in energy prices in Europe, in in connection with which they proposed to introduce another batch of anti-Russian sanctions. In turn, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins at a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on November 28 called on the European Union and NATO to “send a clear signal to Russia that any attempts to escalate the situation on the Ukrainian border will not remain no answer”.
However, in Europe there is a group of countries adhering to a different position – not all European politicians believed the information of American intelligence about the forthcoming “invasion of Ukraine” by Russia. As the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov emphasized, allegations that Russia is going to attack someone, and reproaches to Russia that it behaves aggressively, are absolutely groundless and incorrect in fact, and behind these accusations there may be an attempt to hide preparations for a military solution to the issue in Donbass.
“It is unlikely that the United States and its allies will be able to come up with any serious measures – European partners are too dependent on Russia, and the United States does not have leverage to restrain it. Therefore, any discussion of sanctions will not result in serious restrictive measures”, said Justin Russell, head of the New York Center for International Relations, as he said in a commentary to Kommersant.
If the US authorities really want to channel Russian-American relations into a peaceful channel, they can do so at the presidential talks, the preparation for which was announced by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov. The exact date has not yet been determined, but, most likely, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden will communicate via videoconference. Moscow hopes that the conversation will take place before the end of the year, but the American side prefers not to comment on this topic. The agenda of the talks is rich, one of the topics, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, will be the situation in Ukraine.
However, hopes for Moscow and Washington to reach any agreements on this issue are unlikely to be expected, Americanist Dmitry Drobnitsky said in an interview with Ukraina.ru.
“Even if it were possible in principle, there are several active clans in the White House administration, which they see the Ukrainian question differently. And even if such agreements can be signed or spoken orally, nevertheless, each group will act at its own discretion”, he explained.
Drobnitsky does not exclude the possibility that the top-level talks will ultimately be disrupted.
American political scientist, senior vice president of Keene University (New Jersey) David Birdsel is of the opposite opinion – the summit is not in danger: neither accusations against Moscow of creating tension near the border of Ukraine, nor the imposition of sanctions against Nord Stream 2, on the contrary, now is the most favorable moment for Vladimir Putin to realize his advantages.
Russia is in an advantageous position, since Europe is interested in gas supplies on the eve of winter, the leading EU country – Germany – is weakened by the departure of Angela Merkel, who served as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany for 16 years, and the American administration has to simultaneously deal with many inside – and foreign policy problems.
“I expect, on the basis of statements by Putin and other senior Russian officials in recent months, that Moscow will expect concrete concessions from the West and especially the United States, such as commitments not to join NATO for Ukraine, at least for now; refusal to oppose the “Nord Stream – 2″, reduce military assistance to Ukraine”, – said Birdsel.
Evgeniya Kondakova, Ukraina.ru