Warning concert between Washington and Moscow on Ukraine

Posted on Nov 30, 2021, 6:28 PMUpdated Nov 30, 2021, 6:29 PM

Threats and cautions and warnings. The United States and Russia on Tuesday exchanged a salute of warnings on Ukraine, on the borders of which Moscow has massed nearly 100,000 soldiers in recent weeks in addition to heavy military equipment, armored vehicles, planes and missiles.

“Any escalation on the part of Russia would be of great concern to the United States as well as to Latvia, and any further aggression would have serious consequences”, declared the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken in Riga, capital of Latvia, where the foreign ministers of the countries of the Atlantic Alliance meet until Wednesday.

Preparation of sanctions

Westerners fear that “unusual” movements of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, a repeat of an equivalent operation in April, may be the precursor of a possible invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky evoked this scenario last Friday on the basis of information establishing the deployment of a hundred Russian tactical battalions not far from eastern Ukraine and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke on Tuesday of the presence of armored vehicles, drones and “tens of thousands of soldiers ready for combat”. He added that the Allies had “several options” in the event of a Russian invasion, citing “heavy economic and financial but also political sanctions”.

In contrast, direct military support to Kiev, which is not a member of the Alliance, seems unthinkable. NATO stresses that Ukraine, whose Foreign Minister is present in Riga, is not protected by its collective defense pact. Since both Washington and Moscow have nuclear weapons, that is 68 years, an unwritten but scrupulously respected rule during the Cold War is that never a Russian soldier and an American soldier can find themselves in a position to put themselves in play during of open conflict.

However, in the event of an invasion, NATO could provide satellite intelligence and weapons to Kiev. NATO also stresses that Ukraine, whose Foreign Minister is present in Riga, is not protected by the Alliance’s collective defense pact. NATO has cited strengthening its forces along its eastern flank as a deterrent. The Alliance claims to have deployed no force in Ukraine, even though Russia claims otherwise.

The Kremlin denounces Western threats

For his part, the Russian President, Vladimir Poutine, recalled that the West had spoken of a possible Russian military intervention in Ukraine last April “and you saw that it did not happen”. Moscow had deployed more than one hundred thousand soldiers at the Ukrainian borders last April during “maneuvers”, before withdrawing them, while leaving all the heavy equipment in place. The Russian head of state denounced the Western “threats” and issued a warning to those who would cross the “red lines” of the Kremlin.

The head of the Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, denounced the “direct threat” which represents Ukraine, affirming not being able to exclude “that the regime of Kiev could embark on a military adventure”. He added that “if the West is not able to dissuade Ukraine, but instead tries to encourage it, then we will take all necessary measures to ensure our security”. Russia criticizes the West and NATO for carrying out military exercises near its borders and Kiev for wanting to acquire Western armaments.

Russia invaded and annexed Ukrainian Crimea in 2014 in retaliation for a revolution it accuses the CIA of instigating, which overthrew pro Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych. The Kremlin has since militarily supported irregular Ukrainian forces which control a third of Donbass, an eastern region concentrating the country’s coal and steel production. In response to these actions by the Kremlin, which echo invasions and absorption of parts of Georgia and Moldova, Ukrainian support for NATO and European Union membership has since tripled, according to polls. Russia, once Ukraine’s largest trading partner, with a third of its exports and imports, is now only its third partner, with 7% of its foreign trade.

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