President Joe Biden has landed in the UK on the first leg of a European tour to meet Allied Nation leaders in a series of G7, NATO and US-EU summits, which will begin with his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Aug. June 2021 ends in Geneva â€œAmerica is backâ€ is the message of the trip, back to President Donald Trump, who viewed the NATO alliance as a wistful burden, European allies as free riders and the EU – an evil bureaucratic monstrosity. After meeting friends and allies, Biden, as the undisputed leader of the democratic community of states known simply as the free world during the Cold War, will confront Putin and offer a simple deal: if Moscow exercises restraint and predictability in the future, the â€œfree world â€œWill answer in the same way. But all Russian violations are punished with further sanctions and more isolation (Kommersant.ru, June 7).
In the run-up to the meeting in Geneva, Washington gave Moscow indications of possible concessions or at least a demonstration of reluctance, such as the decision to pressurize the Baltic Sea through an attempt to no longer prevent the completion of the North Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany more sanctions. Or by publicly correcting the statement made by the Ukrainian authorities about a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 7, 2021 The Zelenskyj office initially announced that Biden “supports Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and provides Ukraine with an action plan for NATO membership, or MAP”. According to the White House, Biden did not mention MAP but supported â€œUkrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggressionâ€ and its â€œEuro-Atlantic aspirationsâ€. Kiev later corrected its phone calls. This degradation of Zelenskyi was welcomed in Moscow, although Biden had invited Zelenskyi to visit Washington sometime in July (Kommersant, Sept.
But the US’s half-hearted concessions were not enough for Putin. In an open interview with the state Rossiya TV broadcaster Putin announced, â€œWe have already completed North Stream 2 and that’s why they have [the US] demonstrate a certain reluctance to sanctions. â€Putin also dismissed the fact that Ukraine does not get a MAP as unimportant:â€œ We do not know what it is [the Americans] tell the Ukrainians behind the scenes. You say Ukraine will not join NATO, but there are no guarantees. Perhaps the Americans simply scolded the Ukrainians for going public at the wrong time and for revealing secret agreements with Biden shortly before the summit, which embarrassed their American masters â€(kremlin.ru, June 9).
For many years, Putin has been making public statements implying that Russians and Ukrainians are one people [narod] of the same ethnicity, with a common history, culture and religion (Kremlin.ru, June 19, 2015). He continues to dream of Ukraine as an integral part of the Russian world (Rusky Myr). In September 2013, when the current Ukraine crisis was still emerging, triggered by Kiev’s desire to sign an association agreement with the EU, Putin vehemently refused. Speaking to reporters in the Kremlin, Putin announced: “No matter what happens or where Ukraine goes, one day we will be together.” [as one nation]because we are one people â€(Kremlin.ru, September 4, 2013).
Today, Putin’s stance just seems to have hardened. Refusing to recognize Ukraine as a truly independent nation, he suggests that it is an artificial entity created by the Soviet Communists, while what is now Ukraine was inhabited by people who at the time were â€œRussians “And with whom were” reunited “Tsarist Russia (RIA Novosti, June 9). After former Warsaw Pact states such as Poland and Romania joined NATO despite Russian objections, US Aegis Ashore MD bases were stationed in these states, which, according to Putin, can be used to launch “very fast missiles” in the first strike on sensitive targets to fire at Moscow or other places. When Ukraine joins NATO or one de facto Western allies could move these first-strike missiles east “to Kharkiv or the Dnieper and hit Moscow in less than ten minutes” (Interfax, June 9). Putin clearly implies the stationing of US assets that will be “beheaded” by a first strike in order to suddenly wipe out the Russian military-political leadership, such as the hypersonic medium-range land-mobile precision missiles developed by the Pentagon after the fall of the INF Treaty 2 August 2019. For Putin, an independent Ukraine that seeks integration into the West and eventually joins NATO is a historic deviation and an unacceptable existential personal threat. According to Putin, “at least 50 percent of Ukrainians (or more) are wise and refuse to join NATO because they don’t want to be in the line of fire between Russia and the West” (Interfax, June 9). According to Putin, ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine are subjugated by a “Nazi-style system of discrimination” as second-class citizens (kremlin.ru, June 9).
Apparently, if America is “back,” so is Russia. Over 40 years ago, the so-called European missile crisis of the late 1970s and 1980s almost led to war in Europe. The INF treaty, which defused this crisis in 1987, is now dead. Moscow has promised in Geneva to re-launch Putin’s proposal for a â€œmoratoriumâ€ on the deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe – something NATO has already rejected and insists that Russia has already secretly deployed groundbreaking INF cruise missiles. Moscow denies that Russia and NATO are at an impasse.
The future of Ukraine is also controversial. Moscow claims that â€œat least 50 percentâ€ (or more) of Ukrainians are pro-Russian or just Russians who are subjugated with the help of the West. If necessary, they have to be freed somehow by force of arms. Zelensky said his nation is threatened with a sudden massive Russian invasion that could take place â€œby the end of September 2021â€. About 90 percent of the Russian troops and heavy weapons that were stationed on the borders of Ukraine during the massive “Combat Readiness” exercise in March and April 2021 are still in positions at the border, according to Zelenskyj (Interfax, June 1).