In a video interview with Putin, Biden “expressed the deep concern of the United States and our European allies at the escalation of Russian forces around Ukraine and made it clear that the US and our allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of a military escalation,” according to the White House press release .
In addition to announcing unprecedented economic activities, national security advisor Jake Sullivan said Biden warned Putin that if his country attacks Ukraine, the US will provide Ukrainians with additional defense resources.
The Russians certainly noticed the extremely ostentatious coordination of Washington’s actions with the capitals of their greatest European allies. Both before and after his conversation with Putin, Biden had online connections with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Americans also talked to representatives of the new German government.
The West speaks with one voice on this issue, although the Americans probably would like more enthusiastic support from Europe.
At this point, a small local digression: it is a pity that Biden’s interlocutors did not have a representative of one more European country, which is the largest country on the eastern fringes of the Union and NATO. This certainly has not escaped the Kremlin’s attention as well, as it is a visual confirmation that Russia has finally been thrown out of its orbit where the most important matters of the continent are being decided and which we were flying a few years ago.
However, not only Poles should be worried that the world is talking about our basic interests over our heads, because it is also a cause for concern for our allies that they can no longer count on a recently trustworthy partner in stopping the enemies of the democratic world.
This is the triumph of the Russian strategy of breaking up the unity of Western alliances by means of conflict, disinformation and destabilization … not without the support of an entire army of conscious and unconscious “poputczik”.
Let’s get back to the point.
Biden’s success in achieving such a great mobilization of allies in the face of the Russian threat contains a bitter pill for the beginning Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Well, the Americans very cleverly included in the sanctions package proposed against Russia also the announcement of the blockade of the already completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. the fact that the taps will not be opened on the new gas pipes at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
As a commentator for the POLITICO Playbook newsletter put it, “just hours before his first day in office, Washington tossed Scholz a hard-curved ball.”
The United States was against the construction of Nord Stream 2 from the very beginning, because Moscow will be able to use it as a tool to put political pressure on Ukraine and other countries in the region, including Poland.
The U.S. government thus had the mandate from Congress to impose sanctions on Russia and the international participants in the pipeline construction, but Biden backed off from them so as not to annoy former Chancellor Merkel, on whom he relied as the most important ally in Europe.
For Ms Merkel, Nord Stream 2 is a key element in securing the energy transformation of Germany, which provides for the abandonment of coal as a source of electricity and the use of natural gas until the widespread transition to renewable energy sources.
– We had intensive talks with both the outgoing and the incoming German government on the issue of Nord Stream 2 in the context of a potential invasion – said Jake Sullivan in the White House. – It is a facility of great priority for the Biden administration.
The new German coalition is less uniform in its support for Nord Stream 2 than the Merkel government, but has nevertheless backed it. When asked about the issue at a press conference, Scholz said he felt bound by Merkel’s commitments to an almost finished pipeline – including her claim that Germany could impose sanctions on Russia only if it used gas “as a geopolitical weapon” against Ukraine . As part of the deal with the US, Germany has promised to act if Russia uses energy as a weapon against Ukraine.
But the problems have not gone away, especially as Russia has increased tensions on Ukraine’s eastern border. As Playbook writes, German diplomats have lobbied members of Congress on the issue, especially among a group of Republican senators who are pushing for sanctions on the pipeline.
Both Scholz and the leaders of the European Union have spoken sharply about Russia in recent days. Scholz said on Tuesday that Germany was “very concerned about the troop movements we are seeing on the Ukrainian border, so it is clear that this would be an unacceptable situation if there were a threat to Ukraine.”
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, warned that “any further aggression” by Russia against Ukraine would “strengthen and extend the existing sanctions” of the EU against Moscow. “We are ready to take additional restrictive measures in coordination with our partners,” she said.
But giving up Nord Stream 2 now is a huge challenge.
There is a growing feeling in Washington that Europeans “must step in and do more” and that blocking the controversial gas pipeline is one of the elements of “doing more”.
Chancellor Scholz is in trouble, but it may still turn out that Putin will not attack Ukraine and the problem with Nord Stream 2 will end for him.
I used the fragments of the POLITICO Playbook Brussels newsletter.