The major dimensions of the Russian-American stalemate on Ukraine, Opinions & Blogs News
Amid mounting tensions between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies over Ukraine, Russian President Putin and US President Biden spoke by phone Thursday, December 30 for the second time in a row. month. (the previous virtual conference took place on December 7th).
Talks between the two world leaders were made necessary because the United States and its European allies are concerned about the Russian military build-up around Ukraine, especially in the past two months; they are also concerned about a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which in 2014 annexed the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine through military intervention.
Russia, for its part, is opposed to the idea of Ukraine being admitted as a member of the NATO Alliance. US warnings of severe economic sanctions and threats to exclude Russia from the global financial system (if Russia chooses to attack Ukraine) do not appear to have deterred Russia, which appears to have learned to live with the sanctions regime. the West.
Putin, for his part, seems adamant about his rather difficult demand for legally binding assurances that the West will not arm Ukraine, admit Ukraine into NATO, and deploy offensive weapons in Ukraine or other neighboring countries.
The origins of the current phase of the standoff between the West and Russia can be traced back to the period immediately following the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, when the West adopted a policy of ideological conquest of the former. Soviet Union and its eastern satellite countries. Europe through financial and technical assistance. Gradually, NATO began to increase its footprints in the post-Soviet space.
Since 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009) , Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020) were taken into the fold of NATO.
Russia views the post-Soviet space as its natural sphere of influence and describes the region as its “near abroad”. Russia under Putin strongly opposed NATO’s eastward expansion. From Russia’s perspective, NATO’s presence in its backyard will have serious implications for the country’s security.
Let us recall that during its summit in Bucharest, NATO announced on April 3, 2008 that Georgia and Ukraine “would be members of NATO”, without any precise timetable having been revealed. A few months earlier, Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on February 17, 2008 had been quickly recognized by the United States and certain European countries.
These are some of the important factors which led to the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008 and the recognition of the independence of the strategically located separatist territories of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the region. from the Black Sea by Russia, where Russia has since consolidated its position considerably. This was followed by the annexation by Russia in 2014 of another strategically located territory, namely the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine along the Black Sea coast.
Media reports and statements following the second round of virtual talks between the two world leaders show that no immediate tangible resolution to the impasse has emerged from the talks. The two leaders retain their respective positions. Biden speaks of diplomacy or serious consequences while Putin argues that any further sanctions would only be counterproductive and “could lead to a complete severing of ties between the two countries.”
Russia denies any intention to invade its neighbor, however it demands security guarantees from the West, in particular the ban on NATO expansion with the ultimate aim of encircling the former Soviet states. such as Ukraine and Georgia. Russia is also demanding the withdrawal of NATO forces from Europe to the positions they occupied in 1997. Observers believe these demands are unfounded.
The flip side and the positive side of the story is that the two sides agreed on three rounds of talks in January 2022: Bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue between the United States and Russia (Geneva, January 9-10 ), Session of the Russia-NATO Council (Brussels, 12 January) and an enlarged meeting within the framework of the OSCE (Vienna, 13 January) with the participation of European countries.
It would be interesting to follow the outcome of the next deliberations from January 9, 2022 and to see if these meetings succeed in defusing the tensions, even if they do not manage to find a permanent solution which in any case is not expected in this stage.
Needless to say, the prolonged strained relations between Russia and the United States + Europe would have a negative impact on the overall security situation in Europe in particular and in the world in general; broader issues of global concern such as arms control, cybersecurity, climate change, etc. may also be affected. In addition, the US-Russian Cold War could lead to a new geostrategic polarization, the signs of which are already visible. In addition, neutral countries such as India may feel pressured to walk a tightrope while safeguarding their national interests.
(Disclaimer: The views of the author do not represent those of WION or ZMCL. WION or ZMCL also do not endorse the views of the author.)