Europe is looking with increasing concern at Russia. The West believes that the Kremlin has invested too much in its public maneuvers over Ukraine to back down now, without having something to offer as a moral victory over NATO’s threat to President Putin’s most nationalist and devout bases. What Moscow plans to do next is unclear. However, Europe is now closer to war than it was during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Although there is still space and time for diplomacy, optimism is scarce in the face of this new crisis whose consequences are very difficult to foresee. In the event that Russia invades Ukrainian territory with its troops, a circumstance that Moscow denies – despite the massive accumulation of troops on the border – it would face a country that is willing to defend its sovereignty and that has nothing to do with it, militarily. speaking, with the Ukraine of 2014 that found itself powerless when it came to defending itself from the occupation of Crimea and the destabilization of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions by the Kremlin.
Russia demands that NATO drastically reduce its presence near Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe to avoid war, including ending all military cooperation with Ukraine and providing legally binding guarantees that Ukraine will never join the alliance. . The Biden administration is willing to discuss some of Russia’s concerns, such as negotiating reciprocal limits on where and how military exercises are conducted, or perhaps reviving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, from which the United States withdrew two years ago. years. He refuses, however, to debate the heart of the matter, Russia’s demand to roll back NATO expansion, and insists that he will not abandon the basic principle embodied in the “open door” policy, including the right of nations to choose their allies.
With each passing day, the diplomatic channel loses credibility and both the West and Russia begin to take steps more typical of a pre-war scenario. Over the weekend, Sweden sent hundreds of soldiers to reinforce the island of Gotland, a crucial enclave in the Baltic Sea, after its Defense Minister, Peter Hultqvist, warned that the Scandinavian country could be attacked. Britain also announced that it is supplying Ukraine with new short-range anti-tank missiles for self-defense along with sending more military instructors.
The United States, for its part, has once again stated that it is committed to helping Ukraine in the defense of its “sovereign territory.” Washington insists that there is no time to lose and is putting pressure on Brussels to agree on a firm position on the threat that Russia currently represents to the security of the European Union and the West.