More than a month and a half, threatening military exercises and high-level diplomatic meetings have not made the security crisis in Europe any easier to assess.
Just a week after top US and Russian diplomats sat down in Geneva on January 21 to find ways to de-escalate tensions around Ukraine, the Pentagon warned that Russia has accumulated a fighting force big enough to attack its neighbour, a nation of 44 million people, on a scale and at a time of their choosing. That could include an all-out invasion, potentially resulting in the worst fighting and potentially the worst bloodshed on the continent since the end of World War Two.
“You can imagine what that might look like in dense urban areas, along roads, etc.,” said General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It will be terrible. It will be terrible. ”
US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, described a column of Russian infantry, artillery and missile troops assembled at the Ukrainian border, which he said was “far beyond what we normally see.” they do in the exercises.”
The army is not only on Russia’s border with Ukraine, but also in Belarus.
Britain said on Saturday it would make a new military commitment to NATO to bolster allies threatened by Russia. The British government, which has more than 900 troops deployed in Estonia, said it was considering a plan to double its troops as well as provide defensive weapons to Estonia.
“This package will send a clear message to the Kremlin,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement issued by 10 Downing Street.
Still, Mr. Austin said, “There is still time and space for diplomacy.”
No one is sure what Mr. Putin’s intentions are, and trying to unravel their intentions is at the heart of the uncertainty surrounding the crisis.
Mr. Putin did not speak publicly about Ukraine since December 23. During that time, the Biden administration has rallied Western nations to demonstrate that the costs of military aggression will be severe and rapid.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO and member states are not obligated to defend the bloc, but the United States has put 8,500 troops on high alert to be deployed to Eastern Europe to support the alliance. Allies worry that Russia’s aggression may not stop in Ukraine.
The Biden administration has said it will not send troops to fight in Ukraine, but the Pentagon on Friday said it will do what is necessary to keep thousands of Americans safe in the country.
US officials also announced last week that they were planning to impose sanctions on some of Russia’s largest financial institutions – penalties that could disrupt the Russian economy in ways beyond away from the previous actions of the West.
The United States and Germany are also increasing warnings that natural gas will not flow through the new $11 billion pipeline from Russia to Germany if Russia invades Ukraine.
Still, there is concern that Putin may be willing to pay a heavy price to return Ukraine to what he sees as Russia’s natural sphere of influence.
In July, he wrote a 5,000-word essay expanding on his frequently voiced belief that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.”
And at the center of the current controversy, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Friday sought to offer the prospect of a country where conflict is not theory, but everyday reality.
About 14,000 people were killed in the breakaway provinces of eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, where The Ukrainian army entered the war with Russia-backed separatists since 2014.
Mr. Zelensky said that the impending war was wrong and dangerous. It can lead to economic and social instability which in itself can leave the state struggling to survive.
“We don’t need to panic,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/01/31/world/ukraine-russia-us/ukraine-security-council Live updates: Russia and US confront at UN as Ukraine continues deadlock