Biden, Putin to meet amid concern about Russian invasion of Ukraine
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan24) – US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, as concerns about a Russian attack on Ukraine mount.
Earlier this week, US media reported on an unclassified, one page US intelligence report suggesting Russia might well attack Ukraine next month, when temperatures will have dropped and the ground will be hard enough to support the movement of Russian tanks.
“The unclassified US intelligence document,” The Washington Post reported on Friday, “shows Russian forces massing in four locations.”
“Currently, 50 battlefield tactical groups are deployed, along with ‘newly arrived’ tanks and artillery, according to the document,” the Post said.
US intelligence estimates that Russia has some 70,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and the number is likely to grow to 175,000.
The Russian military build-up has been accompanied “by what US officials call an increase in Russian media disinformation describing NATO and Ukraine as threats to Russia, potentially to create a pretext for a Russian escalation,” The New York Times reported.
Link to Migrant Crisis?
It is possible that the migrant crisis at the border between Belarus and Poland was part of the same operation. Belarus is a dictatorship, which the European Union (EU) had sanctioned for human rights abuses. Yet many Kurds somehow believed it would provide passage to the EU and ended up trapped in the brutal cold.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck charged Russia was, in fact, behind the crisis.
“This is the latest attack of [Belarusian leader Alexander] Lukashenko, who is the executor, but it has an enabler, and this enabler is in Moscow,” Morawieck told the Polish parliament, affirming that Putin was determined to rebuild the old Russian empire.
Most of the trapped migrants were from Syria and Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region. Possibly, those areas were targeted deliberately, as one informed source suggested to Kurdistan 24.
It has long been Putin’s position that the US effort to promote democracy in the Middle East by overthrowing regimes, starting under George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks, has, instead, brought chaos to the region.
Indeed, that was Putin’s message in September 2015, when he addressed the opening of the UN General Assembly. “Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster,” Putin said.“I cannot help asking those who have made this situation: Do you realize what you have done?”
Days later, Moscow, ignoring warnings from the Obama administration which had seen Russian forces building up in Syria, began its bombing campaign in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime—which continues until this day and which has, basically, reversed the course of Syria’s civil war.
On Monday evening, Biden held a conference call with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and the UK to coordinate a common position in advance of his meeting with Putin.
They “discussed their shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric,” a White House read-out of the discussion said.
The leaders also “underscored their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it continued, and “agreed that their teams will stay in close touch, including in consultation with NATO allies and EU partners, on a coordinated and comprehensive approach.”
The US is still hoping a diplomatic resolution of the crisis. However, if that fails, serious economic sanctions would follow.
“We have had intensive discussions with our European partners about what we would do collectively in the event of a major Russian military escalation in Ukraine,” a senior administration official told reporters on Monday.
“We believe that we have a path forward that would involve substantial economic countermeasures by both the Europeans and the United States that would impose significant and severe economic harm on the Russian economy, should they choose to proceed,” he continued.
The US does not intend to deploy forces to Ukraine, but it would provide significant support for the Ukrainian military to help it defend itself. In addition, there could well be a US military deployment to Eastern Europe.
If Russia were actually to invade Ukraine, the senior administration official explained, “There would be an increasing request from Eastern Flank allies and a positive response from the United States for additional forces and capabilities and exercises to take place there to ensure [their] safety and security.”