Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rises despite US push for diplomacy
U.S. officials are raising alarm that Russian threats of war against Ukraine are spiking dangerously despite the conclusion of a week of diplomatic meetings aimed at avoiding the outbreak of open conflict. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to use as a pretext to launch an offensive against Kyiv on top of its buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to use as a pretext to launch an offensive against Kyiv on top of its buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is not planning to answer a further Russian invasion of Ukraine by sending combat troops. But he could pursue a range of less dramatic yet still risky military options, including supporting a post-invasion Ukrainian resistance.
The rationale for not directly joining a Russia-Ukraine war is simple. The United States has no treaty obligation to Ukraine, and war with Russia would be an enormous gamble, given its potential for expanding in Europe, destabilizing the region, and escalating to the frightening point of risking a nuclear exchange.
Russia needs to stop clinging to the idea of reviving the Soviet Union, Ukraine ambassador says
"Russia needs to reinvent itself as a modern state," Vsevolod Chentsov, the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU, told CNBC Tuesday. "It's already gone," he said regarding the Soviet bloc which collapsed in 1991.Relations between the Kremlin and its European counterparts hit a low in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. And it has supported a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country where low-level fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian troops has continued ever since.Now, U.S.
Doing too little has its risks, too. It might suggest an acquiescence to future Russian moves against other countries in eastern Europe, such as the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, although as NATO members those three have security assurances from the United States and the rest of the alliance.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in Europe this week to speak with officials in Ukraine, consult NATO allies and then meet Friday with his Russian counterpart, has asserted “an unshakable U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." But he has not publicly defined the limits of that commitment.
How far, then, might the United States and its allies go to help Ukraine defend itself if the buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine's borders leads to an invasion?
Senators wrestle with Russia sanctions as Ukraine crisis deepens
“We should impose those sanctions sooner rather than later, not wait for the invasion to start," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.With the Biden administration warning that Moscow could launch an offensive against Kyiv at any moment, senators from both parties are hustling to back up their promises of bipartisanship with a legislative response aimed at crippling Russia’s economy if President Vladimir Putin triggers a war in eastern Europe. But despite some positive momentum, Republicans and Democrats have yet to agree on a consensus sanctions plan.
WHY NOT CONTEST A RUSSIAN INVASION?
Going to war against Russia in Ukraine could tie up U.S. forces and resources for years and take a heavy toll in lives with an uncertain outcome at a time when the Biden administration is trying to focus on China as the chief security threat.
On Wednesday, Biden said it was his “guess” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will end up sending forces into Ukraine, although he also said he doesn't think Putin wants all-out war. Biden did not address the possibility of putting U.S. ground troops in Ukraine to stop an invasion, but he previously had ruled that out.
Biden said he is uncertain how Putin will use the forces he has assembled near Ukraine's border, but the United States and NATO have rejected what Moscow calls its main demand — a guarantee that the Western alliance will not expand further eastward. Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 after the ouster of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly leader and also intervened in eastern Ukraine that year to support a separatist insurgency. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting there.
Analysis: Neither Joe Biden nor Vladimir Putin can afford to lose their Ukraine standoff
The stakes in Ukraine are high — militarily and politically. Lawmakers have intensified their criticism of Biden's approach to Putin. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused Biden of “handwringing and appeasement,” but he has not urged sending combat troops. Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, called for an urgent “nonstop airlift” of military equipment and trainers into Ukraine.
Video: Russia Still Says It Has No Plans to Invade Ukraine (QuickTake)
Philip Breedlove, a retired Air Force general who served as the top NATO commander in Europe from 2013 to 2016, said in an interview he does not expect or recommend that the United States send combat troops into Ukraine. Instead, Washington and its allies should be looking for ways to help Ukraine defend its own airspace and territorial waters, where it faces overwhelming Russian superiority, he said.
“Those are things we should be considering as an alliance and as a nation,” he said. “If Mr. Putin is allowed to invade Ukraine and there were to be little or no consequence, we will see more of the same.”
Where Ukraine's sunflowers once sprouted, fears now grow
WASHINGTON (AP) — On a warm spring day in Ukraine 26 years ago, three men smiled for cameras as they planted symbolic sunflower seedlings in freshly tilled earth where Soviet nuclear missiles had once stood ready. That placid scene was, briefly, a launchpad for hope that the demise of the Soviet Union would bury the threat of great power war and mark the start of lasting peace in an undivided Europe. Today Ukraine is ground zero for worry that Russia will ignite a conflict that could engulf the region.On that early-June day in 1996, the American secretary of defense, William J.
WHAT ARE BIDEN'S OTHER OPTIONS?
Given its clear military inferiority, Ukraine could not prevent Russian forces from invading. But with help from the United States and others, Ukraine might deter Putin from acting if he were convinced that the costs would be too high.
“The key to thwarting Russian ambitions is to prevent Moscow from having a quick victory and to raise the economic, political, and military costs by imposing economic sanctions, ensuring political isolation from the West, and raising the prospect of a prolonged insurgency that grinds away the Russian military,” Seth Jones, a political scientist, and Philip Wasielewski, a former CIA paramilitary officer, wrote in a Jan. 13 analysis for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Biden administration has suggested it is thinking along similar lines.
HOW IS THE U.S. SUPPORTING UKRAINE'S MILITARY NOW?
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby says there are about 200 National Guard soldiers in Ukraine to train and advise local forces, and on Tuesday he said there are no plans to augment their number. There also are an undisclosed number of U.S. special operations troops providing training in Ukraine. Kirby wouldn't say whether the U.S. soldiers would pull out in the event of a Russian invasion, but he said the Pentagon would “make all the appropriate and proper decisions to make sure our people are safe in any event.”
Transcript: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on "Face the Nation," January 23, 2022
The following is a transcript of an interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that aired Sunday, January 23, 2022, on "Face the Nation."MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin with the tense standoff along the Ukraine border. More than one hundred thousand Russian troops are now poised to potentially invade from the north, east and south of Ukraine. Russian fighter jets and missiles arrived in neighboring Belarus, where war games are set to begin. Meanwhile, NATO naval exercises are taking place south of Crimea in the Mediterranean, and 90 tons of military aid just arrived in Kiev from the United States.
The administration said Wednesday it is providing a further $200 million in defensive military aid to Ukraine. Since 2014 the United States has provided Ukraine with about $2.5 billion in defense assistance, including anti-tank missiles and radars.
HOW MIGHT THE U.S. HELP UKRAINE AFTER AN INVASION?
It's not clear. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that the U.S. would “dramatically ramp up” support for Ukraine's “territorial integrity and sovereignty.” But he did not spell out how that might be done.
The administration says it also is open to sending military reinforcements to NATO allies on the eastern front who want American reassurance.
Jones and Wasielewski say that in addition to implementing severe sanctions against Russia in the event of an invasion, the United States should provide Ukraine with a broad range of military assistance at no cost. This would include air defense, anti-tank and anti-ship systems; electronic warfare and cyber defense systems; small arms and artillery ammunition, and other items.
“The United States and NATO should be prepared to offer long-term support to Ukraine’s resistance no matter what form it ends up taking,” they wrote. This aid could be delivered overtly with the help of U.S. troops, including special operations forces, or it could be a CIA-led covert action authorized by President Biden, they added.
That would carry the risk of putting U.S. personnel in the line of fire — and drawing the United States into the very combat it's determined to avoid.
Biden warns of rare personal sanctions on Putin .
By Jeff Mason, Humeyra Pamuk and Dmitry AntonovWASHINGTON/MOSCOW, Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he would consider personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine, as Western leaders stepped up military preparations and made plans to shield Europe from a potential energy supply shock.Following multiple rounds of U.S.-Russia talks over Ukraine that failed to reach a breakthrough, Biden, who has long warned Moscow of economic consequences, upped the ante on Tuesday by saying Putin could personally face sanctions. Direct U.S.