A new week begins with debate about Ukraine. World leaders increase diplomacy and direct negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin (Russia) and their national leadership counterparts.
Putin, Xi Jinping’s star guest at the Winter Olympic Games Beijing were the concerns of the United States. Where Putin has complaints about the West refusing to engage Russia’s concerns about the eastward expansion of NATO, the Chinese are not particularly happy with the US choice to turn the Olympics into a human rights diplomacy confrontation.
Putin and Macron will be meeting Monday, February 7, 2022. The two men are looking for diplomatic solutions to the Ukraine impasse.
In Washington, US President Joe Biden met Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, to try to change the position of NATO’s nation least willing to back the militarization in Ukraine. This would allow the United States to adopt a more confrontational posture. Whether the claims of “lockstep agreement” to address Russian aggression are real or temporary lip service to soothe the US remains to be seen. The Whitehouse declared Monday that Nord Stream 2 was now available for Germany from Russia.
The US is pushing the Security Council hard at the UN. UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper and made the statement:
“We’re still working to discourage the Russians from making the wrong choice of choosing confrontation. We held this meeting at the Security Council last Monday to encourage the Russians to refrain from choosing confrontation. We will work to find a diplomatic solution. But, at the same time, we know that the Russians continue to prepare, and we will be working to address the security issues.”
On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan started off his appearance with an even more confrontive message from the Biden administration:
“We believe that there is a very distinct possibility that Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine. This could come in many forms. This could be done in as little as a couple of days or over several weeks. With military deployments, he has placed himself in a position to be aggressively against Ukraine any time.
We are trying to gather our allies and provide material support for the Ukrainians. Also, we want to strengthen our Eastern allies, in particular Poland, Romania, and the Baltic States. And, at the same time, to send a clear message — message to Russia that we are prepared to walk the diplomatic path, to address our mutual security concerns if they’re prepared to do so.
Martha, either way, we’re ready. If they choose to go down the path of escalation instead, it will come at enormous, human cost to Ukrainians, but it will also, we believe over time, come at real strategic cost to Vladimir Putin.”
Opposite this US rhetoric, the Russians continue to state that they do not intend to invade Ukraine and what they want diplomatically is to garner the West’s agreement that NATO will not grant Ukraine membership in the military alliance.
This is Putin’s mission-critical demand, which the US says is not up for discussion. In a RedState article, I mentioned that Putin is aware of the fact that losing Ukraine will end his long-term game of restoring Russia to Eurasia’s Soviet status. NATO membership transforms Ukraine’s Black Sea into an open space for the West. Over half of NATO’s coastline could be reached. All of Russia’s southern belly, from Georgia along the Black Sea coast through Uzbekistan at the Chinese border to Uzbekistan in the Black Sea Coast become the future dominoes marching across the landscape. This is something that Russia Federation wouldn’t like to see.
Ukraine is where the line of demarcation lies. This is something that both Russia and the West are aware of. Each side will continue trying to negotiate, but they must maintain their postures. Is it possible for talks to end in a halt? But more important, who and why do you want talks to end?
We need to take a step back and contemplate this for a second before we can truly think about it.
Are you in an Emergency?
All the US cares about is Ukraine becoming a catastrophe that will explode. Russia is the giant bad bear, imposing an invasion force along the border. This can only be one thing. Russia has been sponsoring separatist movements in Russia’s Donbas region. It’s portrayed with urgency and alarm by the Biden administration. Do the facts prove this?
From April 2021 to date, approximately 100,000 Russian troops have been at the Ukrainian frontier. A report in September 2021 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) noted their arrival as the “Spring Scare of 2021.” At the time, the US think tank community raised concerns that Russia was preparing to annex Ukraine much the same way Putin’s government annexed Crimea after the Russian puppet government of Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014.
They have been near Ukraine for exercises since April 2021. Their presence was largely overlooked by the United States as it dealt with Afghanistan’s crumbling military occupation. It wasn’t until after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban that the US became overtly concerned about the numbers of Russian troops milling about.
Hollie McKay, a foreign correspondent who was covering Kyiv on Sunday, interviewed me. McKay was in Ukraine’s Donbas, where separatist warfare has been ongoing since 2014. Although the conflict is real, it has not escalated in intensity. The intensity of this conflict hasn’t increased in recent years, as you might expect, if there was an urgent need to alter the Russians’ ownership.
Are You a War Criminal?
One must then ask the objective question: Given that the troops are now at the border almost one year, and it seems like the separatist war is a continuous as she goes scenario; is Russia really trying to provoke this new level?
Or is it the United States’ infamous attention deficit disorder in foreign policy waking up and looking for a new shiny obsession after totally blowing it so badly in Afghanistan?
The official US narrative at the moment is that Russia was the unreasonable party. The facts don’t add up, however. It’s the United States that is ramping up the tension with a positional bargaining stance that is increasingly militarizing Ukraine into another Fulda Gap.
Instead of being forced to consider our Ukrainian commitment as an automatic assumption, we are asked if NATO expansion is really in our best interest. This national interest question must be confronted. We need to be sure this is not another instance of “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction” excuse to start a war.
In the world of diplomacy, there’s this concept of BATNA. BATNA stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. In this case, what’s Vladimir Putin’s BATNA where he can ignore Joe Biden and carry on with his agenda?
While I’m pretty sure that the long-term expansion of the EU & NATO eastward cannot be stopped, I’m also sure there is no hurry for it to happen, except maybe to the US which has not seen many wins on the foreign policy front lately.
Mr. Putin’s best course of action in the short term to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO is to simmer the burners of his stove.
- The Ukrainian government and allies are occupied indefinitely.
- If the price of oil and gas remains high, he can afford the expense of rotating one-third of the Russian Federation’s military machine in and out of exercises on the edge of the Ukrainian border permanently as well.
- And Mr. Putin can take America’s admonition to focus on diplomacy by having increasing numbers of consultations with America’s allies and foes doing his own shuttle diplomacy about his view that the expansion of NATO has practical limits if global stability is to remain intact.
- Putin has the option to focus on destroying the unity of NATO member countries in relation to the location of NATO’s eastern border. Putin can focus his diplomatic efforts on breaking the cohesion of member nations regarding the eastern boundary of NATO. The US agenda is certain to shift gears once more, possibly as early as 2022.
- If this short-term strategy is successful, an invitation will be extended to join the future European Union.
While Mr. Putin’s courses of action are easily defined, the question in front of Mr. Biden is murkier. An actual national interest debate about whether Ukraine joining NATO would be in the US’s best interest has yet to take place.
US achievements in building nations are pathetic. The US has never attempted global-scale reshaping since its native expeditions into Manifest Destiny. The Nation has not yet adopted or defined our destiny. Not even vetted in conjunction with cultures or nations that have some knowledge about such subjects.
These dangerous and difficult waters can be very rocky. You should be aware of your assumptions before you take on more.