WASHINGTON (NWN) – The Cold War ended 30 years ago this month, but an unresolved issue – how closely Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, can align with the West – is now causing some of the deepest US-Russian tensions in years. Has been doing.
Controversy over Ukraine’s status and its growing alignment with US-led NATO will be at the center of President Vladimir Putin’s video meeting on Tuesday with President Joe Biden, whose administration calls an extensive Russian military build-up near Ukraine. Indicates a possible attack.
Russia denies any intention to attack and says there is a stir in Washington and Kiev problem.
Putin has his own demands: a binding assurance that Ukraine will not join NATO and that the Western Alliance will not add forces to states near Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov echoed Putin last week, saying, “I want to make it clear: turning our neighbors into bridgeheads for a confrontation with Russia, the need for NATO forces in areas strategically important to our security.” deployment, is clearly unacceptable.” ,
That demand is a non-starter for Biden.
A key tenet of the NATO alliance is that membership is open to any eligible country. And no outsider has membership veto power. While there is little chance that Ukraine will be invited to the coalition anytime soon, the US and its allies will not rule it out.
“NATO member states decide who is a member of NATO, not Russia. And that has always been the process and how it will proceed,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
Ahead of his Putin meeting, Biden held phone conversations with the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and Italy on Monday. According to a White House statement, they discussed “shared concern about Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric”. They agreed to continue pursuing diplomacy through the so-called Normandy format, which brings together Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in search of a political solution, so far to no avail.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that he had coordinated with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Agreed to continue joint and concerted action,” Zelensky wrote, noting that he was grateful for “the continued support of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Blinken said last week that the US would work with allies to impose “serious costs and consequences” if Russia did attack.
On Friday, Biden said he, along with allies, had developed “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr Putin”. It is likely that there will be significant US and allied economic and financial sanctions against Moscow. The administration is also considering providing Ukraine with additional defensive weapons, although Biden has given no indication that he will directly respond to an incursion with US military force.
Putin’s grievances with the West are long overdue and Ukraine’s is beyond question. They date back to the early years after the Cold War when Russia felt humiliated by the collapse of its economy and the loss of global clout. After Washington launched a global war on terrorism, Putin attacked what he saw as American arrogance.
At an international conference in Munich in 2007, he insisted, “a state and, of course, first and foremost the United States of America has exceeded its national borders in every way.” “It shows up in economic, political, cultural, and educational policies. It imposes on other nations. Well, who likes it?”
Russia has since rebuilt its military and has become more assertive in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The history of Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the West is complex. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Ukraine agreed to release the nuclear missiles that Moscow had deployed on its territory during the Cold War. It did so in line with the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, in which Russia and the West agreed to respect the “independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine”.
Ukraine began to establish closer ties with NATO. It has never explicitly promised membership, although in April 2008 NATO formally announced that Ukraine and Georgia would “become members” in the future. That future hasn’t come yet.
Four months after the 2008 NATO declaration, Russia invaded Georgia. In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and weeks later it threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale fighting in the Donbass, but efforts to reach a political settlement have failed and sporadic clashes continue along the tense line of contact. Russia has refused recent offers of talks with France and Germany.
Ukraine has deep historical and cultural ties with Russia, and Putin has repeatedly insisted that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people”. He has stated that large parts of Ukrainian territory are historical parts of Russia that were arbitrarily given to Ukraine by communist leaders under the Soviet Union.
Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, the United States has no treaty obligation to protect it.
NATO’s eastward expansion has been the subject of controversy not only with Moscow but also in Washington since its inception. In 1996, when President Bill Clinton’s national security team debated the timing of membership invitations to former Soviet allies Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, his Secretary of Defense William J. be delayed. , Perry wrote in his memoir that he considered resigning when he lost an internal debate.
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were formally invited in 1997 and joined in 1999. They were followed in 2004 by Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since then, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia have joined, bringing NATO’s total to 30.
Putin has now drawn the line on Ukraine, whose leader is promising a strong response to any test. Ukrainian President Zelensky said that his country’s military is a “highly capable and highly organized force that is confident in its capability and capable of derailing any expansionist plans by the enemy.”
NWN writers Aamer Madhani and Sagar Meghani in Washington and Daria Litvinova in Moscow contributed to this report.