Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s National security advisor, made rounds on Sunday talk shows to emphasize that if Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine the United States will impose severe, expensive sanctions against Moscow.
This is the plan anyway. The truth is that the Europeans begged Biden to give Ukraine to Putin. While the sanctions will hurt Russia, they’ll also severely harm the economies of Western Europe. Olaf Scholz, the new German chancellor, has been reluctant to support tough sanctions against Russia. This is largely due to Germany receiving half its gas from Russia and 25% of its oil imports. Scholz stated categorically that Germany would not provide offensive weapons to Ukraine.
It is unclear how committed Scholz and his new government are to Russia’s tough sanctions.
The NATO alliance is frayed and battered, but it’s looking for a way to get out. Everyone, even the United States, doesn’t want to go to war over Ukraine. The problem of how to surrender Vladimir Putin to the United States without appearing to give up is a challenge for members of the alliance, despite Washington’s bravery.
Sullivan shared some of the ways NATO might back down.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron went to Moscow to meet Putin in an attempt to “defuse” this crisis. Joe Biden probably gave Macron his blessing to move forward.
Although sending France to surrender Ukraine might have some international symmetry, Biden doesn’t want to be too closely tied to what’s coming.
Macron left the meeting with Putin feeling hopeful. Putin stated that the talks were useful, substantive, and business-like and suggested that Macron’s ideas could be used as a foundation for future joint steps.
Putin stated that many of Macron’s security ideas were real and that they would discuss again after Macron has traveled to Kyiv, to meet with the leadership of Ukraine.
Macron stated that one of the issues being discussed was a Russian virtual veto on NATO expansion. A veto by Vladimir Putin over NATO expansion would render NATO ineffective. Putin would love to target Russia, an expansionist power that wants to reclaim ex-vassal countries like Ukraine. He could have any say as to which former vassal state will not be allowed to join the alliance.
Putin has Let it be known his goal is to make NATO inoperative as an operational military force. This will be achieved by giving Russia the right to veto NATO membership.