US hopes to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine

So there is no real debate about what is happening at Ukraine’s borders. The firepower is there to see, and it’s part of Mr. Putin’s strategy of coercion. The only mystery remaining is what Mr. Putin intends to do with it. At first, US officials believed he planned to use them to intimidate the Ukrainian government, force it to give up its ambitions to join NATO at some unspecified point in the future and stop its drift towards the West.

Then, after Mr Putin released a proposed ‘treaty’ in December, it seemed he had a bigger plan: to expel US and NATO forces from former Soviet bloc countries that joined NATO, and roll back the world order created after the Soviet collapse 31 years ago. Two weeks ago, the US assessment changed again: Mr. Putin, intelligence and military officials said, was targeting Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, after concluding that cyberattacks and subversion alone were unlikely to move the government. Only a full-scale invasion would do that.

So the Biden administration is trying to test Mr. Putin’s results. If the problem can be solved by negotiating a new arms control pact that addresses Mr Putin’s concerns about two anti-missile sites in Poland and Romania, or rules regarding military exercises organized by Russia and NATO, then there is room for an agreement, the two men said. And they said it was possible to renegotiate the Minsk agreement, a set of commitments made by Ukraine and Russia after the annexation of Crimea. These were selectively ignored, on both sides.

But it seems unlikely to longtime US officials and many European diplomats filtering through Munich that Mr Putin went to all that expense and effort, and put his legacy on the line, just to paint inside. rows of the existing order. . He wants to overthrow it.

Since Mr. Putin came to power 20 years ago, “Russia has challenged this system,” Angela Stent, a Brookings Institution fellow and former National Intelligence Supply for Russia and Eurasia, recently wrote in Foreign Affairs. “The current crisis is ultimately about Russia redrawing the post-Cold War map and seeking to reassert its influence over half of Europe, based on the claim that it guarantees its own security. .”

That doesn’t mean there is no way out.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest to nuclear annihilation in the Cold War, Mr. Khrushchev finally brought his missiles home, in exchange for a secret promise – which Mr. Kennedy kept months later – to withdraw the American Jupiter missiles. from Turkey, where their nuclear warheads were within range of the Soviet Union.

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