President Joe Biden met with Germany’s new leader Monday in a whirlwind of diplomacy spanning two continents, vowing to stop the important Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas project if Russia continues to attack Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said that the US and its allies are the only ones talking about invasion.
Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Moscow for more than five hours at the same time as Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke at the White House in an attempt to calm the issue before it escalates into armed confrontation. Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border, boosting to its military power on a daily basis.
The White House has grown increasingly concerned about the possibility of conflict, and Biden has been trying to rally support among European allies for crippling economic penalties against Russia if it attacks.
“There will be no Nord Stream 2 if Russia invades, which means tanks and troops crossing the Ukrainian border again,” Biden added. “We’re going to put a stop to it.”
This would not only harm Russia’s economy, but it would also put Germany’s supply chain in jeopardy. The pipeline’s construction is complete, however it is not yet operational.
“We’re all ready,” Biden added, alluding to the formidable Western alliance, of which Ukraine is not a part.
While Biden was adamant that the pipeline would not be built, Scholz emphasized the need of maintaining some ambiguity regarding sanctions in order to pressure Russia to de-escalate the conflict.
“Russia has to realize that a lot more might happen than they’ve possibly estimated with themselves,” says the author. Scholz remarked.
The presence of more than 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine has heightened Western fears of an assault. Russia might attack Ukraine “any day,” according to White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan, igniting a confrontation with “enormous human cost.”
At the same time, Biden and NATO partners have stated unequivocally that no soldiers would be sent in to combat Russia on Ukraine’s behalf.
During their lengthy conversation — which included a supper of sturgeon or reindeer — Macron and Putin expressed their views but also emphasizing the necessity for future negotiations.
Putin stated that the US and NATO have ignored Moscow’s requests that the alliance promise that Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries would be kept out, that weapons will not be placed in Ukraine, and that alliance forces will be withdrawn from Eastern Europe.
“We are totally opposed to any further NATO eastward expansion because it is a threat to us,” Putin stated. “We are not approaching NATO; NATO is approaching us, so talking about Russia’s aggressive actions is absurd.”
He mocked Western portrayals of NATO as a defensive alliance, cynically remarking that “the people of Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan have learnt it from their own experience.” He also warned a larger conflict if Ukraine joined the alliance and attempted to reclaim Crimea, which Russia took in 2014.
“European countries would be pulled into a military clash with Russia by default,” Putin said. “You’ll be sucked into that war against your will.” No one will come out on top.”
Macron hailed the talks as “serious and profound,” with an emphasis on de-escalation circumstances.
He explained, “We sought to develop convergent components.” “The following days will be essential, and we’ll need to have significant talks together.”
Putin expressed his willingness to continue talks and denied that Russia had any plans to invade Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Biden has urged that Americans who are not vital officials should leave Ukraine.
On a more optimistic note, Putin stated flatly that some of Macron’s suggestions may serve as a framework for resolving the crisis in eastern Ukraine, and they agreed to speak following Macron’s visit to Kyiv on Tuesday.
“The answer is yes,” Biden answered when asked whether there was still a “offramp” for Russia in the impasse.
Before meeting Biden, Scholz warned German media that “if Ukraine is invaded militarily, there would be a very expensive price.” And we’re meticulously planning for this, and we’ve been discussing the details for quite some time.” Scholz will visit Kyiv and Moscow on February 14 and 15.
Germany’s Defense Minister, Christine Lambrecht, said her nation will contribute up to 350 troops to a NATO battlegroup in Lithuania in the next days. “We are boosting our commitment to NATO’s eastern flank forces and delivering a very clear signal of solidarity to our friends,” she added.
Additional US forces have already been sent to Poland, Romania, and Germany, while a few dozen elite US troops and equipment arrived in southeastern Poland near the Ukraine border on Sunday, with hundreds more infantry troops from the 82nd Airborne Division expected to follow soon.
The United Kingdom said that it will send 350 troops to Poland to support NATO forces, in addition to the 100 Royal Engineers already stationed there.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell defended the increasingly grim Western warnings that a Russian invasion may be soon during a press conference in Washington.
“This isn’t a scare tactic. “These are the facts,” Blinken stated. “And the realities are that we’ve witnessed a significant gathering of Russian military on Ukraine’s borders over the last six months.”
“140,000 troops massed on the border is not going to have tea,” Borrell said.
In reaction to Russia’s “massive military deployment” near Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is considering a more permanent military presence in southeast Europe.
After meetings in Brussels with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Stoltenberg stated, “We are evaluating additional longer-term modifications to our posture, our presence in the eastern portion of the alliance.” “If Russia truly desires less NATO on its borders, they will receive the exact reverse.”
The move may mimic NATO’s long-term military presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, where approximately 5,000 troops are stationed. Stoltenberg revealed no details and said no final decision has been taken. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia would all have a similar army.
The goal would be to enhance NATO partners’ defenses in the region. Should Russia invade, the troops would not cross into Ukraine.
Biden and Scholz also reviewed backup measures for supplying gas to Europe in the event that Russia cuts off shipments. A frigid winter last year, a summer with scant renewable energy output, and Russia supplying less than normal have all drained Europe’s liquefied natural gas reserves.
Should Russia shut off Europe, Biden argued that the US and other nations could make up a “substantial amount” of the supplies lost.
However, energy experts argue that replacing Russian gas would be difficult and time-consuming. In the United States, export terminals cost billions of dollars to construct and are already operating at full capacity.