Why Russian aggression against Ukraine is important to Americans

President Joe Biden said this week that he expected the Russians to “start” and that a small invasion would be treated differently than a complete invasion.

When asked by a journalist in Geneva whether he, like Baiden, thought an invasion was possible, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used an interesting language.

What does it mean for countries to “sleep”? All this high-stakes geopolitical chess has to do with how closely the United States has Ukraine in Russia’s eyes.

After meeting with Lavrov in Geneva, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stressed that the invasion will have serious consequences, but both countries are still talking. The United States will provide a written response to Russia’s concerns next week.

Putin’s desire to somehow redo the power of the Soviet Union is no secret. An increased spread of Russian power in Ukraine would be a logical step and a direct challenge to Western democracies.

Putin will demand something. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen told CNN correspondent Kate Bolduan on Friday That Putin is not a “Hamlet figure” trying to decide what to do. Everything is calculated and deliberate.

“He will get something that will satisfy him, and he has made it clear that Ukraine cannot become truly independent, it cannot become a member of NATO, and it cannot have any weapons of aggression. “Cohen said.

These are requirements that the United States cannot meet, he said.

Drama. Some context points from this great report from Inside Ukraine by CNN Matthew Chance and Laura Smith Spark:

  • Russia actually annexed part of Ukraine, Crimea, in 2014.
  • Russian-backed separatists occupied the country’s Donbass region in the same year, where clashes and sniper attacks continued.
  • Putin feels threatened by NATO and sees NATO’s support for Ukraine as a “red line”.
  • Ukraine fears the planned coup to overthrow its government is part of a plan to invade.

One way to reassure Putin could be a commitment by Baiden and European leaders not to include Ukraine in NATO.

Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, wants to keep its options open.

In response to Russia’s calls for NATO to suspend its eastern expansion, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement to CNN: “Russia cannot prevent Ukraine from approaching NATO and has no say in the discussions. related to ’.

NATO has grown since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Add several countries that used to be part of the Soviet bloc. These include the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999; Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; Montenegro in 2017; Macedonia 2020.

“Accepting the worst.” When CNN journalist John Kings offered Lavrov’s comment on the US trip to Ukraine with another former defense minister, Leon Panet, he said the Russian leader should be interviewed first.

“I started because you don’t trust what Lavrov or Putin say,” Paneta said.

“I don’t think we can assume it’s just because Lavrov says Russia won’t invade, so I think we have to accept the worst right now.”

Remember, they are enemies. Paneta went on to say that Americans should see Russia’s leader as an attempt to undermine the United States and NATO.

“They are enemies,” Paneta said. “Their main goal is to weaken the United States, to weaken the coalition and to undermine our democracy, and I think it’s very important that the United States and our allies are very firm about the response that would occur if they invaded.”

Emphasis on deterrence. There is absolutely no indication that the United States will send combat troops to Ukraine. After all, it is not a member of NATO.

In Ukraine, there are a small number of National Guard and Special Operations units as trainers. The United States provided nearly $ 450 million in military assistance to Ukraine in 2021 and is exploring ways to help support Ukraine’s military forces.

Paneta said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not self-evident and that there was an opportunity to deter Putin, especially with military signals. The Baiden administration allowed the Baltic states to send US-made military equipment to Ukraine.

While economic sanctions are currently in place against Russia, tougher efforts to isolate Russia from the Western economy could also be used as a deterrent. This could include restricting Russia’s access to the US dollar and disrupting its efforts with Germany to build a national gas pipeline around Ukraine and directly to Europe.

The United States and Europe are not on the same side with regard to Russia’s deterrence, as Biden made clear at his press conference this week.

An invasion would harm the United States and Europe. Americans feel the effects of the invasion on their bank accounts every day.

Gas prices could rise, writes CNN Matt Egan. “It is impossible to say how high the prices will be and how long they will remain. But $ 100 worth of oil is sure to push up the pump. That means the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could affect most Americans. ”

Status of Western democracies. However, there is more to the economy. Biden based his presidency on the idea that democracies should oppose authoritarian regimes.

According to Stephen Collinson, a spokesman for CNN, Putin “is using Ukraine as a hostage to try to force the United States to negotiate a stable outcome for the Cold War.”

Collinson also explains why Americans are so worried about the economy and the coronavirus pandemic, with this “toughest test of will since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

At stake is nothing but “the biggest clash of regular conventional armies in Europe since World War II.”

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