President Joe Biden met with Germany’s new leader Monday in a whirlwind of diplomacy spanning two continents, vowing to block the important Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas project if Russia continues to invade 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 near Ukraine’s border, boosting to its military power on a daily basis.
The White House has grown increasingly concerned about the possibility of war, and Biden has been trying to rally support among European allies for crippling economic sanctions 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 said. “We’re going to put an end 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 member.
While Biden was adamant that the pipeline would not be built, Scholz emphasized the importance of maintaining some ambiguity about sanctions in order to pressure Russia to de-escalate the conflict.
“Russia needs to realize that a lot more could happen than they’ve possibly calculated 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 adviser Jake Sullivan, igniting a confrontation with “enormous human cost.”
At the same time, Biden and NATO partners have stated unequivocally that no troops will 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 disagreements but also emphasizing the necessity for future negotiations.
Putin stated that the US and NATO have ignored Moscow’s demands that the alliance guarantee that Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries will 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. “It’s not us advancing to NATO; it’s NATO coming to us, and so it’s a two-way street.”
He mocked Western portrayals of NATO as a defensive alliance, cynically remarking that “the people of Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan have learned it from their own experience.” He also threatened a larger conflict if Ukraine joined the alliance and attempted to reclaim Crimea, which Russia took in 2014.
“European countries would be drawn into a military clash with Russia by default,” Putin said. “You’ll be sucked into that conflict against your will.” No one will come out on top.”
Macron described the talks as “substantial and deep,” with a focus on de-escalation conditions.
He explained, “We sought to build convergent elements.” “The coming days will be essential, and we’ll need to have significant discussions together.”
Putin expressed his willingness to continue talks and denied that Russia has 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 proposals 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 if there was still a “offramp” for Russia in the impasse.
Before meeting Biden, Scholz told 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 country would contribute up to 350 troops to a NATO battlegroup in Lithuania in the next days. “We are strengthening our contribution to NATO’s eastern flank forces and sending a very clear signal of unity to our friends,” she said.
Additional US forces have already been deployed 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 announced that it would 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 could be soon during a news 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 talks in Brussels with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Stoltenberg stated, “We are evaluating additional longer-term adjustments to our posture, our presence in the eastern portion of the alliance.” “If Russia truly desires less NATO near 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 force.
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 generation, and Russia supplying less than normal have all drained Europe’s liquefied natural gas reserves.
Should Russia cut off Europe, Biden argued that the US and other countries 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.