January 21, 2022

East Valley Times

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Vladimir Putin’s real intentions in Ukraine and the dangerous possibility of war in Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin made the remarks during his annual press conference in Moscow this Thursday. EFE / EPA / Yuri Kochetkov

In the fertile plains of Ukraine, there is a danger that the repercussions of the Cold War with Russia will turn into deadly frosts. Washington is raising concerns about the concentration of troops on the border with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the possibility of an attack on the Kiev government in the west. When there is stock Risk of war in EuropeAt the heart of the crisis is a question: What does Putin really want?

The possibilities are endless and – especially for the hope of an independent, prosperous and democratic Ukraine – they go from bad to worse. Is it forcing the West to make major concessions on security in Eastern Europe? For the rest of Ukraine, will it pave the way for future NATO membership and long-term security? Will it regularize the control of Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region of Ukraine, which was invaded by Moscow’s “iconic green men” in 2014 and has been embroiled in an almost constant armed conflict ever since? Or does Putin really want to wave the Russian flag in Kiev’s Square to complete his vision of Ukraine, a key part of the Russian state?

Concerns about Russian design in Ukraine eased after a similar crisis last spring, when it came to the fore again in recent weeks.U.S. officials have warned that intelligence services could pose a growing risk of a Russian invasion. President Joe Biden has rejected one of Putin’s key demands: a guarantee that Ukraine will never enter the NATO alliance. But Putin has already achieved at least one thing: the West is paying attention to him.

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In an effort to defuse the crisis, the United States and Russia will hold bilateral talks in Geneva on Sunday and Monday, followed by further talks at the NATO-Russia Council next week on January 12 on the Organization for Security and Cooperation. Europe, including Ukraine, on January 13. The talks come a month after Biden and Putin made a second call last week, and Washington and Brussels warned Moscow that tough new sanctions would be imposed if Russia crossed the Red Line.

At his last call, as reported Washington PostPutin responded that any new sanction for the Ukraine crisis would provoke a “complete breakdown in relations” between Moscow and Washington.

The intervention of Russian troops in Kazakhstan, at the request of its pro-Kremlin government, could further affect the Kremlin’s military operations or when to act in Ukraine, following the outbreak of widespread protests. The uprising in Kazakhstan, following the violent crackdown on dissent in Belarus, underscores the challenges Russia faces in maintaining its sphere of influence.

But the challenge now is to play Putin’s biggest strategy in Ukraine.

In a fascinating article Atlantic, Anne Applebam writes about two schools of thought in Kiev. “The school thinks that this whole situation could be a big mess, basically: the Russians have deliberately set out to ‘intimidate the Americans,'” he says, “in order to put pressure on Ukraine to change its constitution as the Russians wish, or to put Putin at the center of international attention or Russia within the former Soviet frontiers.” Restoring the sphere of influence.

According to them, Putin’s target appears to have “achieved some success” without drawing the attention of the White House and NATO to the Ukraine crisis, but rather the false claims of Western aggression in Russia’s efforts to force the West to engage with it. .

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But there is also a very worrying pessimistic view. In July, Putin published a 5,000-word article in which he effectively asserted a historical and cultural basis for his claims in Ukraine, questioning the legitimacy of its modern frontiers. Moreover, as Peter Dickinson of the Atlantic Council pointed out, he argued that Russia had historically occupied land. “Russia was robbed,” Putin wrote bluntly.

Back in Kiev, Applebaum said pessimists feared this: “If Putin believes that Ukraine should be destroyed sooner or later; If you believe that historical flaws need to be corrected; Even if you want to regain some of the celebrities you lost due to covitation, corruption and bad economy, you may think this is a good time to do so.

America is a divided house. The EU is tired of the epidemic and distracted. What other time could Putin have than this?

A better assessment of Russia’s intentions and goals will be the most effective outcome of next week’s summit in Europe.

“I think Putin wants two things out of the crisis he created, one of which is a solution [conflicto en el este de Ucrania] In Russian, with strong autonomy for the Donbass region, “Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman said this week.”Second, he wants the United States to take the initiative that there is no NATO in Ukraine and that there is no Ukraine in NATO.

Andrew Lozen, an expert on Russia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me that he hoped bilateral talks with the Russians and Americans would begin strongly before the forum loses steam when the forum shifts to NATO. Moscow, Washington is the decision maker, so it seems it wants to talk directly with the White House.

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The question is not only whether Biden can back down from compromising with Putin in Ukraine, but also to what extent Washington is prepared to broadly renew the security paradigm in Europe. But despite that, Putin has created so much excitement about the crisis in his country that he may now have gone too far to retreat. If you do not receive offers, you have several options. They include missile strikes, cyber-attacks, a widespread intervention in the Donbass or, some fear, a complete invasion.

“Russia must come out of this crisis with some sort of victory; That requires some concessions from the US or NATO, ”Lozen told me. “Restricting military positions near Russian borders may be enough, but I do not know if that’s enough. It could be an excuse for aggression.

But Putin has achieved something else: raising the price of Western support in Ukraine. Even if Russian shoes fail to march in Kiev, the threat of continued invasion could force Washington and the EU to act more lightly and acknowledge the extent of Russian influence, whether the Ukrainians like it or not.

“The dialogue has shifted from how to resolve this crisis in Ukraine to how to avoid a war in Europe,” Lausanne told me. “Now I think the terms are very comprehensive. Whatever happens, I think Ukraine will end up worse than before.”

(c) 2022, The Washington Post – Anthony Fiola

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