If Vladimir Putin’s decision in the past few weeks to deploy thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border is driven mainly by a desire to attract Western attention, he will not have to wait long for his reward.
On Tuesday, his defense minister acknowledged that Russia had two armies and three paratroopers stationed near the conflict-torn border, a phone call from U.S. President Joe Biden to the Kremlin. Bilateral summit proposal: The long-awaited award for Putin who won a seat at the world’s highest negotiating table.
By then, Moscow was only evidenced by satellite imagery, social media footage, and Kiev’s increasingly violent rhetoric: Russia had amassed more troops than at any time since the 2014 invasion of Crimea on its western border.
The additional 50,000 troops, large tanks and other heavy weapons provoked Kiev and other European powers, prompting an immediate response from NATO and the United States to the possibility of a war between the two countries.
Russian officials, however, warned that Ukraine’s “conflict” was over, that so far anti-war rhetoric had crossed the border, and that Russia’s military had acted with mere intent.
As a result, experts concluded that Moscow’s intention was simply to intimidate its neighbors, to test the level of support for Ukraine under Biden’s new administration, and to remind the White House of Russia’s withdrawal from European security.
“Russia has sent a clear signal that in the current context of deteriorating US-Russian relations, Moscow is no longer ready to make concessions on Ukraine,” said Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Strategic and Technological Analysis, a Russian defense think-tank. Stop, or we’ll move on. “
Since Russia’s 2014 invasion and Ukraine’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, pro-Russian separatists have fought against Ukrainian forces for control of the Ukrainian territory of Donbass, bordering Russia, and killed more than 14,000 people.
Kiev accused Moscow of facing disputes over arms, military aid and irregular troops. Moscow denies any direct involvement but says it has a duty to protect the Russian-speaking population living there.
Both sides accused the other of failing to abide by the Minsk Agreement, the 2015 Peace Agreement, and the Line of Communications. Many see frustration in Kiev as the main reason behind Moscow’s decision to remind its neighbor of its significant larger military might.
“With the current state of Russia-Ukraine relations, we have no other tool to influence Kiev other than the threat of force and the use of force. Other diplomatic tools are really limited, “said Pakhov, a member of the Public Council of the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Russia is not because it is cruel by nature, but because it is the only way to exert any pressure or influence on them,” he added.
On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said troops were being deployed as part of “appropriate action” in response to Nato’s threat, adding that he was preparing to withdraw 40,000 troops and 15,000 weapons from the Russian border.
He said Russian troops were conducting exercises “at present”, but “show full readiness and efficiency to perform tasks to ensure the country’s military security”.
Dmitry Trenin, head of the Moscow Carnegie Center, suggested that Kiev’s Western support had exacerbated the Russian-Ukrainian conflict by escalating tensions between Moscow and Nato, forcing the Kremlin to take a stand.
“Thanks to the uninterrupted illegal and automated assistance from Ukraine and the United States and its allies, Kiev has the power to keep Russia in the way that German and chess players call it. zugzwang“Any action a player has to take or take will only make the player’s position worse,” he said.
In a move seen as an initiative to calm the situation, according to a readout in a White House conversation, Biden used the telephone call with Putin on Monday to “propose a summit in a third country in the coming months.”
In the call, Biden “also expressed our concern about the sudden formation of a Russian military” and “emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The summit format will please the Kremlin by effectively isolating Kiev from any talks and will allow Putin to project the image of two global superpowers determining the future fate of the conflict.
A long-term compromise, however, now appears objectionable, with both sides failing to comply with the terms of the Minsk agreement and warning that any move by D-Skeleton could be seized by the other as an opportunity for further lifting.
Russian and Nato warships have been sent to the Black Sea, and the Western alliance is preparing for massive military exercises in the Eastern European states this summer, a move that is likely to warm tensions.
“Instead of dealing with Russia, the West is adding momentum that could eventually lead to conflict,” Trenin said. “Mikhail Gorbachev will not come a second time.”
“Let’s face it: Europe’s regional war is once again being seen as a possibility for both sides, and it should not please anyone. Even in the United States, because such wars will not be limited to the Old Continent, “he added.” Fasten your seatbelts. “