New Delhi: Russian troops numbering several thousand along with heavy artillery and hundreds of tanks have amassed near the borders with Ukraine raising hackles in the USA and western Europe. US President Joe Biden and the top leadership of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy expressed grave concerns about what they believe is an attempt by Russia to coerce and attack Ukraine.
Led by US President Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and agreed that diplomacy, especially through the Normandy Format, is the only way forward to resolve the conflict in Donbas through the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The leaders also underscored their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russia had in 2014 seized control of the strategically important Crimea peninsula in Ukraine through military action, which was the first hostility between two European countries since the end of World War II. Later in 2015, Russia forced Ukraine to sign the Minsk Agreements after sending a large number of troops in a show of strength. But the peace agreements are now on the verge of collapse.
While Russia has claimed that it is not planning any military action against Ukraine, President Biden is scheduled to speak to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on a video call later on Tuesday.
Some of the actions being planned to stop Moscow include imposing restrictions on Russia’s banks as well as black it from raining finances globally.
According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price Washington’s actions would depend on what Moscow does.
“If Russia chooses to fail to de-escalate, if Russia chooses to move forward with any plans it may have developed to continue its military aggression or to aggress militarily upon Ukraine, to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, its independence, its territorial integrity, we and our allies would be prepared to act, we would be prepared to act resolutely,” stated the US State Department spokesperson.
While the US has ruled out any military intervention, it plans to send troops to NATO’s eastern flank. Moreover, President Biden, in his talks with Russia’s Putin, will make it clear that US will not rule out making Ukraine a NATO member, a stand which has been a major concern for Moscow.
Russian troops have strengthened their position in Crimea ad well as near Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, which is controlled by separatist militia.
Ukraine believes that Russia is ready to attack which could come by the end of January 2022. According to Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov over 94,000 Russian soldiers are stationed along its borders and may be planning a full-scale offensive.
Russia has been demanding that the US stop NATO’s expansion. The Guardian quoted a Russian foreign policy analyst Fyodor Lukyanov as saying that Moscow will not accept any kind of military partnership between Ukraine and the west. “There is a real red line. Right or wrong. But Russia perceives any kind of military alignment between Ukraine and the west, not necessarily NATO membership … That is seen here as absolutely unacceptable,” asserted Lukyanov.