The presidents of Russia and the United States held a two-hour virtual meeting on Tuesday
Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden have talked today about Ukraine amid growing fears that the conflict, which continues to claim a monthly trickle of lives, go back to a phase of open warfare. The virtual meeting they have held on Tuesday lasted two hours and the US president has threatened his Russian counterpart with “strong economic and other measures” if Ukraine attacks. He also asked him to lower tensions and “return to diplomacy,” according to the White House.
Putin said a few weeks ago that he wants binding assurances that NATO will not expand further east and a promise that certain types of weapons will not be deployed in countries close to Russia, including Ukraine: “The problem is the possible deployment on Ukrainian territory of attack systems with a flight time of seven to ten minutes to Moscow, or five minutes in the case of hypersonic systems. Imagine that, “said the Russian leader.
The Kremlin has always wanted Ukraine out of NATO. But Moscow now argues that even if Ukraine never formally joins the alliance, nor should it become ‘de facto’ an American outpost on the Russian border.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry today accused Russia of deploying more tanks and sniper teams on the front lines.
Russia and its banks could be hit by the toughest economic sanctions ever taken. US prepares measures to dissuade Putin from using the tens of thousands of soldiers which has concentrates near the border. The vetoes could target Russia’s largest banks and Moscow’s ability to convert rubles into dollars and other currencies.
A source told Reuters that it has also been discussed pressure Putin’s inner circle with measures, but no decision was made. German Gref, CEO of Russia’s main bank, Sberbank, today called the idea “absurd” and “impossible to execute.”
According to CNN, penalties could include disconnect Russia from the international payment system -SWIFT used by banks around the world- a measure considered extreme.
Bloomberg reported that US and European allies were also weighing measures targeting Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign investment fund established in 2011 by the Russian government to invest in projects in the fastest growing sectors. He is known for having prompted the development of the Russian vaccine against COVID-19, the famous Sputnik V. The United States could also restrict investors’ ability to buy Russian debt on the secondary market.
BALANCE OF FORCES
During the last few months the Kremlin has sent two simple messages to the new US president. First of Russia attaches prime importance to Ukraine however much China or Afghanistan require renewed attention.
And second, that Russia is less and less comfortable with the ‘status quo’ in Ukraine, a country that remains between a rock and a hard place of separatism and the risk of a new invasion but is increasingly willing to rearm without limits. . Unlike the military escalation in April, which was resolved with little consequence, Moscow “seems ready to take drastic measures to reverse the situation”, how do you write Maxim Samorukov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Samorukov believes that the Kremlin’s goal in the current crisis “is not to inflict a humiliating defeat on Kiev or to take on the ugly task of occupying Ukraine”, but rather “persuade the West that Russia is ready to start a full-scale war on Ukraine unless something is done about the current situation that, at least in Putin’s eyes, is completely unacceptable. “
Satellite images have shown Russian troops from elsewhere in the country located in the Smolensk region, about 200 kilometers from the border with Ukraine. Moscow has denied that it is preparing an invasion and he has said that the function of his troops is defensive, although at some point he has also spoken of simple “maneuvers”.
Russia is increasingly annoyed by Western military aid to Ukraine and still does not accept NATO’s years of progressive expansion. Kiev has better and better weapons to attack separatist positions. Seven years after the annexation of Crimea, Moscow’s labeling as an enemy cuts across much of the country’s social spectrum, and support for NATO membership is on the rise. Moscow’s ‘soft power’ in Ukraine is at a minimum, only threats can work.
Kiev has said it does not plan an attack on the separatists. But Moscow questions Ukraine’s intentions and he has said he wants assurances that Kiev will not use force to try to regain territory lost in 2014 at the hands of Russian-backed separatists.
According to the criteria of