Friday, February 3

The Ukrainian crisis strains tomorrow’s summit of Biden and Putin to the limit

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin they will meet tomorrow by videoconference with the situation on the border of Ukraine and Russia at a time of maximum tension. In recent days, the White House has publicly denounced the escalation of the Russian military presence in the vicinity of the border of its partner in Eastern Europe and has leaked information and analysis that speak of the true possibility of a short-term Russian invasion. term.

It will be the first time that the presidents of the USA and Russia have seen each other since their meeting in person in Geneva last June. Then, in July, they had a phone conversation, the last contact between the two.

by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who assured that both leaders “will discuss various issues on the relationship between the US and Russia, including strategic stability, cybersecurity and regional issues.” The main spokeswoman did not hide the priority issue in the call: “President Biden will underline the US concern about Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and will reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. ‘

General James McConville, the highest authority in the US Army, assured in a press conference that the current estimate is that there are between 95,000 and 100,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine. “I don’t know what they are going to do, but I am very, very worried,” he said.

That number of Russian soldiers is above the estimate of 70,000 that the US offered a few days ago and reaffirms the military reinforcement of Moscow at different points on the border with Ukraine. According to an analysis by US intelligence, leaked this weekend to various US media, Russia’s plans are to send up to 175,000 men to the region, in addition to numerous armor, artillery and support equipment.

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The Russian plan, according to that analysis, is an attack on the former Soviet republic early next year. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov he placed it more precisely at the end of next January.

“Clear plans”

The first to make strong warnings of possible Russian military action against Ukraine was Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Latvia this weekend and also during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Blinken spoke of the existence of “evidence that Russia has clear plans of aggression against Ukraine” and warned Lavrov that that would have “severe consequences and costs.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that Russia “has already invaded” Ukraine before, referring to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatists in the east of the country. “If we look at the forces that are in the border region, what is happening in the information field, really increases our concern,” he said. “We are certainly committed to helping Ukraine defend its territorial sovereignty.”

Ukraine is not a member country of the Atlantic Alliance, but its president, Volodymyr Zelensky has strongly insisted that his country join the Western military alliance. That has not happened so far, but it has received military support, such as US missiles, and strategic advice.

Russia opposes Ukraine being a NATO stronghold in its vicinity and has demanded guarantees that it does not become a member and that no military exercises take place in the region, as was the case this year in the Black Sea.

Putin will undoubtedly bring those demands back to Biden tomorrow. “I will not accept red lines from anyone,” said the US president this Friday to questions from journalists and added that he hopes to have a “long conversation” with his counterpart.

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Biden’s warnings offensive and his Administration have the backing of their allies in the US Congress. Senator Chris Murphy, one of the Democratic leaders in the Foreign Relations committee of the upper house, assured that he has reviewed the intelligence reports, that “the threat is serious” and that he hopes that the videoconference “will bear fruit.”

Shadows of Afghanistan

“Ukraine could be the next Afghanistan for Russia”Murphy warned of his invasion plans. “It is up to us in Congress to make it clear that we are going to be diplomatic, political and military partners of Ukraine, that we are going to provide them with more military systems so that they can defend themselves and I hope that Congress will take steps in that direction next week. to make it clear.

Biden will threaten Putin tomorrow with new sanctions and coercive measures if it moves towards aggression in the region. So far, that has had no effect on the Russian leader, who has escalated his aggressiveness since the invasion of Crimea. The following year, in 2015, Russia intervened in the Syrian war. In 2016, he interfered in the US presidential elections. In recent years, he has multiplied cyberattacks against American interests. Although it remains to be seen whether he will invade Ukraine again, Putin has made it clear that he handles himself well in the constant tension.

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