With tensions escalating along the Ukraine-Russia border, U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have agreed to a phone conversation today, Dec. 30, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Although the pair spoke recently, on Dec. 7, there is still much to work out, especially after Putin’s threat of a nuclear attack on Europe. Will the talk achieve anything or is this just another power ploy between the two world chiefs? As Liberty Nation’s Dave Patterson said:
“The Kremlin is making crystal clear to the Biden national security team that if the United States and NATO do not provide written guarantees that Ukraine will not become a part of the NATO alliance, Putin will play the nuclear card and put all of Europe at risk.”
While Russia has around 100,000 troops at the Ukraine border, National Security Council Spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement that Biden and Putin will “discuss a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia.” Today’s call is reportedly at the behest of Putin and will be in addition to scheduled talks on January 10-13.
Is All of This an Elaborate Trap Set by Putin?
Some U.S. officials have warned that Moscow may invade Ukraine within the next month. Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer Rebekah Koffler opined in a Fox News piece that:
“There’s a more than 50% chance that Putin will attack Ukraine in the coming weeks, regardless of the outcome of another round [of] talks between Moscow and Washington planned for January 10 through 13.”
Russia denies having immediate plans for a military operation into Ukraine but has still warned NATO not to cross “red lines.” As Koffler wrote, “That phrase invokes a legendary Russian World War II rallying cry for the troops to defend the motherland before a bloody battle. He [Putin] also said that there was ‘nowhere to retreat.’”
While it may look good on paper that the two leaders will be discussing the issues once again, some officials worry it is just a ploy to distract the U.S. while Putin continues to finalize plans to invade Ukraine. For example, the removal of only about 10,000 troops could have been more about deploying them to a different strategic position while giving the appearance of trying to negotiate with the U.S. and allies.
Over the weekend, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that NATO’s “expansion aimed at incorporating Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, is a matter of Russia’s life or death.” Putin has claimed that even if America meets Russia’s requirements, the United States cannot be trusted. He said during a press briefing that “We were lied to. Blatantly,” and further insisted that Ukraine should not be allowed to join NATO.
In an alarming message during the briefing, the Kremlin said that Russia is “fully justified in whatever action it takes because it is defending itself from NATO.” Fox reported that Putin ruled out any compromises with the U.S., which he considered to be “on Russia’s doorstep” thanks to offensive strike weapons positioned in the Baltics.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to stay in the Mediterranean Sea area over concerns surrounding so many Russian troops near the Ukraine border. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu last week accused the U.S. of involving chemical weapons on the Russian borders. And, on Christmas Eve, the Russians accused Kiev of an “act of terrorism” after a Molotov cocktail was tossed at the Russian consulate in Lviv, Ukraine.
So now the blame game continues, and accusations pile up. Russian Deputy Defense Minister General Alexander Fomin accused NATO of “preparing for a large scale high-intensity conflict with Russia,” and Foreign Minister Sergeĭ Viktorovich Lavrov accused the United States of trying to provoke a “tiny war” in Ukraine so that Russia could be blamed for it.
Is Putin taking advantage of an American president caught up in a pandemic and consumed with domestic issues to further his goals? The Russian president evidently feels the timing is right for the Kremlin to act, before Ukraine is accepted into NATO. Are these phone calls and meetings just a smoke screen to keep America and her allies looking the other way, or is there a chance Putin really does want to find a peaceful resolution?
LN’s Dave Patterson has some insight into the situation:
“Whether we are headed for a new cold war, a renewed nuclear arms race, or a standoff with Russia like the Cuban missile crisis, the United States and the West have been in this scary situation before. It takes grit and resolve to confront menacing Russian behavior. The real question is will President Biden stand tall in the face of the Kremlin’s attempted extortion?”
~ Read more from Kelli Ballard.