Biden faces a critical week of confrontation with Putin

Europe has often faced such ugly moments before, where life and death — and war and peace — depend on the balance of power and the test of will between despotism and benevolent forces.

The peaceful end of the Cold War 30 years ago was aimed at changing that bloody history and ushering in the era of President George H.W. Bush in 1989 Hope it will bring A “complete and free Europe” where Russia will find its rightful place of peace.

“For 40 years, the seeds of Eastern European democracy have been dormant, buried under the frozen tundra of the Cold War,” Say President Bush was in Mainz, Germany, on May 31, 1989, six months before the fall of the Berlin Wall and more than two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Ten years and ten years, time and time again, the bloom of the human spirit withered from the cold of conflict and oppression… The world has waited long enough. The time is right. Let Europe become complete and free.”

It is against this background that US President Joe Biden (Joe Biden) this week faced the dying embers of this aspiration and the critical moment of his presidency’s iconic foreign policy initiative. Biden is calling allies to engage in a systematic competition between democracy and the dictatorship of China and Russia. He has said that this will define 21Yingshi century.

This is in conflict with the iconic ambitions of Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the expansion of NATO towards its borders, the former He famously called “The greatest geopolitical tragedy (20day) Century. “At the age of 70, he seemed more determined than ever to consolidate his legacy through territorial expansion or control of neighboring countries, just like the Russian tsars and leaders before him.

This week starts on monday U.S.-Russia bilateral talks in GenevaThe initial dialogue started on Sunday night, the Russian-NATO Council meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, and the European Cooperation and Security Organization in Vienna on Thursday.

The reason for all these emergency meetings is Russia Safety requirements It was delivered in the form of two draft treaties in mid-December. Their terms would prohibit Ukraine from joining NATO and require the coalition to withdraw its troops stationed in member states of Central and Eastern Europe and stop all military exercises in these countries. A few days later, Putin adopted an arrogant fringe policy in the form of an ultimatum-with the support of approximately 100,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border-he will accept “Military technology“If you are not satisfied, act.

So far, the United States and its allies have responded to them through the carrot of reciprocal negotiations on certain aspects of the treaty, including permitted missile systems and military exercises, as well as penalties, new financial, military, and technical sanctions during the Russian invasion. Upgrade. Ukraine.

U.S. officials Tell the New York Times These plans include “cutting off Russia’s largest financial institution from participating in global transactions, imposing an embargo on U.S.-made or U.S.-designed technologies required by the defense-related and consumer industries, and arming Ukrainian insurgents, who will carry out the equivalent of guerrillas. Activities. The war against Russian military occupation, if this is the case.”

By the end of the week, the United States and its allies may know whether Putin is willing to negotiate or whether he is determined to escalate.

The situation of the past week underscores the fluidity of the situation Russia-led rapid military intervention In Kazakhstan, at the request of Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, it was ostensibly to quell widespread public protests against the increase in fuel prices on January 2.

It is wrong to separate Putin’s actions in Kazakhstan from his ambitions in Ukraine. According to his calculus, they are inseparable.

After the dust settles, Kazakhstan is likely to be more deeply integrated into Moscow’s expanding sphere of influence than at any time since it left the Soviet Union in 1991, with abundant energy and mineral resources. Including 40% of the world’s uranium reserves.

Although the situation is still evolving and reliable information is difficult to obtain, it is indisputable that the timing and rapid implementation of Russian intervention highlights Putin’s determination to see and seize strategic opportunities in the former Soviet Union.This is the fourth time Moscow has intervened in neighboring countries that have been tilted towards the West in just two years-Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine. Same as the other three.

Rumors spread Regarding the role of Russia in the events of last week in Kazakhstan, from the beginning of the possibility of a coup organized by Russia to the always opportunistic Putin, only grasped the certainty of this moment.

It is obvious that because his country is in turmoil and his leadership is precarious, Kazakh President Tokayev turned to Putin for help to ensure his political survival. This could bring lasting change to a country that has benefited from balanced relations with Moscow, Beijing, and Washington — and perhaps other parts of Central Asia.

With the support of Moscow, Tokayev issued the shooting order Opposed the protesters and dismissed 81-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev, his former benefactor and the country’s first president, as chairman of Kazakhstan’s powerful security committee.he still Deported and arrested His intelligence chief Karim Masimov (Karim Masimov) was charged with treason.

Russian army Now on the ground Protecting the country’s most important airports and military installations, as well as other soldiers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is made up of six countries in the former Soviet Union, is the first such military intervention since its establishment in 1992.

As U.S. Secretary of State Tony Brinken Said this week, “A lesson of modern history is that once Russians enter your house, it is sometimes difficult to let them leave.”

If there is a message from Kazakhstan to US officials negotiating with Russia this week, it is this. No matter what you wish to negotiate, you must recognize that Putin is persevering, believe that he has the initiative, is willing to take risks, is ready to send troops, and treat the Biden administration—especially after the collapse of Afghanistan—and its partners as Weakness, division and indecision.

The most unlikely scenario is Putin’s abandonment of NATO requirements or a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Instead, pay attention to the darker and more cunning things aimed at splitting allies-taking more samples of Ukrainian territory, annexing Lugansk in Donbas Province, where Russian separatists dominate, or secretly challenging A dramatic event within Ukraine.

The question is whether the United States and its allies can avoid both appeasement and war. The future of Europe is once again in a state of equilibrium.

Frederick Kemp Chairman and CEO of the Atlantic Council.