The week-long diplomatic efforts in Europe over the crisis in Ukraine have ended with no indication that the United States or its allies can persuade Russia to cease its military buildup and threats of aggression against its neighbour. Yet, Russia’s musings about a possible military buildup in Cuba and Venezuela reflect how U.S.-Russian tensions have escalated following Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, which will prompt Western sanctions on Russia that will be followed by measures against Russian officials and companies close to Putin.
As Ukraine mobilized forces to defend itself against potential Russian recent aggression, the Biden administration tried a last-minute gamble: a face-to-face plea to President Vladimir V. Putin. White House reached out to Sochi and confronted Mr. Putin about Russia’s military movements on Ukraine’s border, which are in contempt of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which discourages the use of threats or force against the territorial boundaries of the political independence of any state. The advance was endangering Ukraine and hurting Russia by scaring off foreign investment and disillusioning ordinary Russians with their government’s policies.
With President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia seriously hampering the shot clock for diplomacy, the European Union and the United States were holding out hope that he would agree in principle to withdrawing military from eastern Ukraine, even as they worry that Russia might be playing for time. A week after talks among officials from dozens of countries, White House officials and senior diplomats said they still do not know which path Moscow will take. The Russians want to negotiate directly with Kyiv, but the Ukrainian government has refused to go along; it insists on discussing the conflict only with other European governments and the United States.
U.S. Deputy of State met with Kremlin, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, met on matters peace for circa eight hours last week in Geneva. On Wednesday, the NATO-Russia Council also convened in Brussels, let alone multilateral talks by the OSCE in Vienna on January the 13th, but all were in vain. The E.U. has offered Moscow a new round of talks but has made clear it will not agree to anything unless Russia is willing to work through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — a move that would bring Ukraine into the process at a later stage.
In a news conference on January 14th, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the United States would continue with diplomacy to advance security and stability if Russia chose to take a different path. Ukraine accuses Russia of cyberattack (allegedly fake) following intelligence by U.S. and European officials. Further complicating the situation, each side has accused the other of violating the agreement, raising fears that the warring parties could slide back into bloodshed.
Typically, when Washington goes to Russia, there’s no such thing as a small meeting. What happens in Sochi will set the tone for the relationship between Washington and Moscow for years to come. So, there should be no illusions that a single conversation will solve what stands between the two countries now—even if Russian President Vladimir Putin suddenly shows more flexibility than he has to date, a possibility Joe Biden and his team bank on. The United States said there had been no new talks scheduled with Russia on resolving the crisis in Ukraine after the U.S. Secretary of State met his Russian counterpart on Wednesday and said the ball was in Moscow’s court.
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Moscow’s patience is quickly running out and it is clear to everyone that the situation is not by any means improving. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to talk with the U.S. and its allies has come to seem like a diplomatic coup for Washington. But several experts said the U.S. has been too lenient toward Moscow, and the diplomatic initiative could backfire if Russian aggression intensifies in eastern Ukraine. Suffice to say; the Biden administration was to try dialogue. This depicts Mr. Putin as an unappeasable fellow. If need be, the West should commit itself to bolster Ukraine’s capacity to resist and deter invasion. That would raise the potential costs of an invasion and encourage Mr. Putin to exercise more prudence than he has shown so far in his intervention in eastern Ukraine. His actions there call out for a Western response: even a small Ukrainian military counterattack from behind their lines against pro-Russian separatist fighters would demonstrate resolve, as well as capability, on Kyiv’s part. Biden will have to stand up to Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine in weeks to come. He will have to show he is tough enough to respond strongly because it is the right thing to do and because the credibility of America’s diplomatic ability hinges on it.
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