A convergence of events over the coming week could determine whether the stalemate is resolved peacefully or Europe is at war. At stake are Europe’s post-Cold War security architecture and long-agreed limits on the deployment of conventional military and nuclear forces there.
The Biden administration on Friday said an invasion could happen at any moment, with a possible target date of Wednesday, according to intelligence picked up by the United States, and Washington was evacuating almost all of its embassy staff in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. But even if a Russian invasion of Ukraine doesn’t happen in the next few days, the crisis is reaching a critical inflection point with European stability and the future of East-West relations hanging in the balance.
A phone call between President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday did nothing to ease tensions. President Biden and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, spoke on Sunday.
"I would expect that @POTUS will engage by telephone with President Putin, but I don't have anything to announce for you on that right now," Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, tells @marykbruce. https://t.co/ay71XjxEPZ pic.twitter.com/qPLWrZ30D3
— Biden_Squadron (@BidenSquadron) February 11, 2022
In the week ahead, Washington and NATO are expecting Moscow’s formal response after they rejected its main security demands, and major Russian military drills in Belarus, conducted as part of a deployment near Ukraine, are to end. The fate of the Russian troops now in Belarus will be key to judging the Kremlin’s intentions.
— Alexis Shanes (@alexisjshanes) February 6, 2022
Putin has warned the West that he will not back down on his demand to keep Ukraine out of NATO. While Ukraine has long aspired to join, the alliance is not about to offer an invitation. Still, he contends that if Ukraine becomes a member and tries to use force to reclaim the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, it would draw Russia and NATO into a conflict. Despite the tensions with both Paris and Berlin, Putin spent more than five hours talking to French President Emmanuel Macron last Monday and will host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday. Putin said he was grateful to Macron for trying to help negotiate a way to ease the tensions and said they would talk again.
What he said. What he didn’t say. German Chancellor #Scholz makes 1st visit to @POTUS DW‘s @inespohl & @DrJJanes of @AICGS join me. More at https://t.co/feF0nnx9o6 @dwnews #Biden #Macron #Putin #NordStream2 #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/WopWjdrFrf
— Brent Goff (@brentgofftv) February 7, 2022
[This is a continuing and developing story, please check back for updates]