US President Joe Biden “underlined the unwavering support of the United States for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said the White House, recounting a telephone conversation between the two leaders. Faced with the accumulation of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, emergency consultations took place Tuesday in Berlin and then at NATO, in the presence of the head of Ukrainian diplomacy.
Washington announced a first measure with the sending of 500 additional soldiers to Germany, posted “from this autumn”, by the voice of the American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, after a meeting in Berlin with his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Concerning Russian reinforcement
“The considerable military reinforcement of Russia is unjustified, inexplicable and deeply worrying”, warned for his part the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, after receiving the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba.
The Ukrainian official also met in Brussels with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “This meeting is timely given what is happening along the Ukrainian border with Russia,” said the head of US diplomacy.
Summit in third countries
These tensions on the Ukrainian issue further weigh down the relationship between Washington and Moscow in these first months of Joe Biden’s mandate.
During their conversation Tuesday, Joe Biden proposed to Vladimir Putin a summit in a third country “in the coming months”, according to the White House. The two leaders agreed to “continue the dialogue” to ensure global security, the Kremlin said. But Moscow also accused NATO on Tuesday of carrying out “threatening” activities, and claimed to have been forced to “take the appropriate measures”. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Choïgou said he had transferred “two armies and three airborne units to the western borders of Russia for exercises”.
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“We must discourage Moscow from any further escalation, in particular by making it understood that the cost of any new military adventure would be too high”, pleaded in Brussels the head of Ukrainian diplomacy. “Nothing can be ruled out with Russia,” he stressed.
“The measures envisaged may seem expensive, but the price of prevention will be lower than that of intervention to end a war,” he explained.
Ukraine fears the Kremlin is looking for a pretext to attack it. Kiev accused Russia of massing more than 80,000 troops near its eastern border and in Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, after pro-Westerners came to power in Kiev.
Moscow, for its part, has warned NATO and the United States against the risk of turning Ukraine into a “powder keg” with the support given to strengthening Kiev’s defense capabilities.
Resumption of fighting
In their annual report on threats against the United States, the American intelligence services estimated that Russia would “continue its destabilization efforts against Ukraine” but that it did not want “direct conflict” with Washington.
The fighting on the Ukrainian front, which had been almost at a standstill since a truce concluded in the summer of 2020, has resumed with intensity in recent weeks.
“NATO is on the side of Ukraine”, reaffirmed Jens Stoltenberg. It thus helps Ukraine to modernize and strengthen its security and defense. On the other hand, he remained cautious in his response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to speed up his country’s accession to NATO.
“The thirty allies will decide when Ukraine qualifies for membership,” he said. “Ukraine has the right to choose its path. No one has the right to interfere in this process, ”he said, however, to Moscow.