Amid the intense diplomatic and military heat over Ukraine that has divided world leaders, a new significant development on Thursday occurred when US President Joe Biden urged American citizens to leave Ukraine immediately. He also warned of a potential major conflict with Moscow, should the US and Russian troops engage each other on the ground.
Emphasising the chaotic situation on the ground over the Ukraine row that could potentially alter the tectonic paradigms of geopolitics, Joe Biden said in an interview on Thursday, “We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. This is a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.”
Reiterating his position that under no circumstances he would send his troops to Kyiv to rescue Americans in case Moscow invades, Biden underscored, “That’s a world war. When Americans and Russians start shooting one another, we’re in a very different world.”
As per reported estimates, Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops around the Ukrainian border, and around 30,000 troops at the Belarusian border that also borders Ukraine.
With each passing day, the situation in and around Ukraine has become a matter of utmost concern both for the West and Moscow. For the former, it is a security and economic equation, while for Moscow it’s a question of their security and sovereignty as the expansion of NATO ever since the collapse of the USSR has been a major irritant for Russia. The country sees eastern Europe, once a part of the Soviet Union, as their backyard.
NATO member United Kingdom said that the “most dangerous moment” in the West’s standoff with Moscow appeared imminent as Russia held military exercises in Belarus and the Black Sea, following the build-up of its forces near Ukraine. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also informed British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of Kiev’s reluctance to implement the Minsk Agreements.
In what is being seen as a cold welcome of Truss by her Russian counterpart, Lavrov said to reporters standing alongside Truss, “I’m honestly disappointed that what we have is a conversation between a dumb and a deaf person… Our most detailed explanations fell on unprepared soil.” Truss challenged Lavrov on Moscow’s insistence that its military build-up near Ukraine does not directly threaten anyone. The West clearly sees it as a trap.
Reacting to Lavrov’s statements, Truss said, “I can’t see any other reason for having 100,000 troops stationed on the border, apart from to threaten Ukraine… and if Russia is serious about diplomacy, they need to remove those troops and desist from the threats.”
The two leaders also discussed the Minsk Protocol. Russia blamed Ukraine for not implementing it and added that Moscow and London interpreted the Minsk accords in different ways. Since the past few weeks, the world has been witnessing shuttle diplomacy tactics in an effort to ease tension, but the situation on the ground indicates that this conflict is unlikely to be resolved in a short span of time given the interests and stakes of the concerned parties.
A key round of important discussions took place on Thursday where UK PM Boris Johnson visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels, and Germany invited Baltic states’ counterparts to Berlin. Johnson later told reporters that diplomacy was the way forward. Russia and Ukraine also met in Berlin yesterday. After nearly nine hours of talks, the two sides failed to reach a breakthrough, but agreed to keep talking.
Criticising the West for its dubious actions over Ukraine, Russia said that the talks with Ukraine, France and Germany fell short of any new agreement, and also criticised the lack of clarity in the Ukrainian position. Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, said after the meeting that the parties could also not overcome differences regarding the interpretation of the Minsk Protocol. While Moscow has blamed the West and Ukraine for not acknowledging its concerns in eastern Europe and regarding the Minsk Protocol, Ukraine has said that it is committed to the accords.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has proposed direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has so far rejected. Moscow has demanded a written guarantee from NATO that neither Ukraine nor Georgia would be included in the military alliance headed by the United States. The US and rest of the West continue to threaten Moscow with severe economic sanctions if it invades Kyiv, allegations that Moscow has denied. Russia has repeatedly stated that its key demands should be acknowledged by the West as they are non-negotiable.
The main sufferers are the people of Donbass, the contentious location which is at the epitome of this conflict. The eastern Ukraine region has witnessed huge military and separatist presence ever since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.