But for many in the administration, what Putin overlooked was more important than what he said. There was no threat that the United States and NATO would yield to his demand that troops leave the former Soviet bloc countries that are now part of NATO, and that all nuclear weapons be dismantled. leave Europe, or he will be forced into what he did before. and mysteriously called “military/technical means.” It could be a temporary omission.
And Mr. Putin has said that the US and NATO responses, a text leaked in a Spanish newspaper, address none of his core concerns. But he suggested there was still time for diplomacy, taking a very different tone from his request a few weeks ago that he needed “written guarantees” and needed them now. instantly.
Some of those who have supported Mr. Putin for years have seen a man looking for a way out.
William B. Taylor Jr., a longtime diplomat who served as the US ambassador to Ukraine, said on Wednesday that he thought Mr Biden’s stance was more drastic – a shift he called “command words”. passive to active deterrence” – is working.
“I think Putin blinked in a way,” Taylor, who spoke publicly at the impeachment hearings of President Donald J. Trump, said in an interview. “He is in a state of staring. And now he’s looking for a way out. He’s overplayed, and he may, for a while, settle in to enter talks on a wide range of topics. “
Others are not so sure.
Several Russian experts inside and outside the government say that while Mr. Putin is seeking respect for Russia as a great power and genuinely attentive to his security needs – complaints that The West has ignored – protracted negotiations over new arms control treaties or limits of reciprocity. Military movements and exercises are unlikely to satisfy him. In view of this, he will want concrete concessions now, before he can back down from the border.
Some administration officials say they think Putin’s interest in diplomacy is purely tactical and temporary. They suspect that he doesn’t have all of his forces yet and may not want to overtake China’s President Xi Jinping by invading just as the Winter Olympics are starting in Beijing. Mr. Putin is coming out of his long Covid-related isolation to join celebrations this weekend, and he will be taking the time to meet Mr. Xi, with whom he has formed a convenient alliance.
The Olympics end around February 20, and Russian authorities think that will be the time to assess whether they have any impact. Perhaps, they say, he will test Mr. Biden by trying to capture more territory in the Russian-speaking east and south. Perhaps he will try to sabotage the Zelensky government by shutting down the power, or communications.
But some echoed Mr. Biden’s statement two weeks ago at a news conference, when he said, “I guess he’s moving in. He’s got to do something.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/us/politics/biden-putin-strategy.html Biden calls for action by Putin; Is he pushing Moscow into war?