With President Biden deciding to send combat forces to Europe, there seems to be no end to what has become the Biden versus Putin bickering. U.S. and Russian positions in the Ukraine border crisis are diverging daily. The West sees the 130,000 Russian combat soldiers and their equipment on Kyiv’s eastern frontier as “threatening the sovereignty of Ukraine,” as Liberty Nation explained in previous coverage. Moscow considers the problem as one of maintaining the security of the “Motherland” and preserving Russia’s development geopolitically and economically. Establishing and sustaining territorial security for Putin means ensuring that NATO does not encroach on Russia’s border in the west and specifically that Ukraine does not become a member of the alliance.
On February 1, Russian president Vladimir Putin, in a rare press conference, took the opportunity to air his grievances against the U.S. and NATO. Chief among the Russian president’s pain points was his contention that the U.S. and NATO do not give the Kremlin’s “security needs” the deference they deserve. According to The New York Times, the Russian chief executive “accused the United States of trying to goad his government into launching a conflict to create a pretext for tougher Western sanctions against Russia.” The comment is consistent with Putin’s previous inferences that America’s “most important task” is to limit Russia as a developing nation and that the West is using Ukraine to accomplish that end. Though his concerns seem illogical to the U.S. and its allies, those gripes are in keeping with Moscow’s historical complaint that the West is attempting to marginalize Russia and its geopolitical aspirations.
Yet, for his part, President Biden used the Ukraine border crisis as an opportunity to send 3,000 American soldiers and their equipment to eastern Europe. The Daily Mail reports the U.S. leader has approved the movement of American forces to eastern Europe in the “coming days.” Of the forces being deployed, 2,000 will come from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with 1,700 going to Poland and 300 to Germany. From the U.S. forces currently in Europe, 1,000 will move from Germany to Romania, which is NATO’s closest geographical point to Russia and 250 miles from Crimea, a region illegally annexed by Moscow. The unit redeploying from Germany is an infantry Stryker squadron. These troops are in addition to the 8,500 placed on heightened alert by Biden.
There is a touch of irony with the U.S. Army’s up-gunned Stryker squadron being repositioned to Romania. The upgraded version of the infantry fighting vehicle was developed in 2015 by General Dynamics in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in April of 2014. The Stryker now possesses a 30 mm cannon, which replaced the M2 .50-caliber machinegun, considerably increasing the weapon system’s lethality.
From the U.S. and NATO perspective, building up American forces in eastern Europe is all about Russia’s putting 130,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, threatening invasion. But the latest report from Fox News is that the White House is backing away from the idea that an invasion of Ukraine is imminent. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I used that [word ‘imminent’] once. I think others have used that once, and then we stopped using it because I think it sent a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew that President Putin had made a decision.” What did President Biden mean then when he allegedly told Ukrainian President Zelensky a Russian invasion could occur in February and to “prepare for impact”? And, one must ask, what is the message the White House wants to send by deploying U.S. troops to eastern Europe? If there is confusion about Moscow’s intentions, there is at least some ambiguity about what Biden’s national security team is trying to convey.
Where does that leave the Ukraine border crisis? Vladimir Putin complains Russia gets no respect and is off to the Winter Olympics in China. The U.S. sends 3,000 combat troops to eastern Europe as if hostilities, if not “imminent,” might happen pretty soon with a Russian horde overrunning all of Ukraine. The most positive spin anyone can put on the situation is nothing has changed.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
~ Read more from Dave Patterson.
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