Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed thousands upon thousands of troops at the border with Ukraine, apparently not caring much about Joe Biden’s opinion. U.S. intelligence officers are telling European allies that Putin’s move is real and that they need to coordinate an economic and military response.
Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence, traveled to Brussels this week to inform NATO Ambassadors about the threat. Although the trip was originally scheduled, Russia’s buildup was the main topic of discussion. American and British intelligence are becoming more convinced that Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin is contemplating military action to seize control of larger areas of Ukraine or destabilize Ukraine enough to bring in a more pro-Russian government.
In April, American and allies raised concerns when Moscow began to build up its forces close to Ukraine’s border. The hostilities have escalated after Ukraine attacked a separatist howitzer with one of its drones, prompting Russia’s scramble for jets.
William J. Burns (director of the CIA) traveled to Moscow to warn the Russians about attacking Ukraine earlier in the month. This full-court press has not been heard. Vladimir Putin correctly assessed the situation and is likely to decide how best to proceed with his plans.
We can only guess what these plans might be. This may be an attempt to pressure Ukraine into changing its government and making it more pro Moscow. Perhaps Putin wants to seize more territory from Ukraine. However, he will have to wait for the right moment before he can take action. Ukraine is under less pressure to make concessions now that Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, has left the international stage. Berlin is lacking a strong leadership presence without a German coalition.
Europe is more dependent on Russian gas supplies than ever, particularly as Europe’s winters get longer and its gas reserves drop. The fear of losing Russian energy access could reduce Europe’s support for tough sanctions. There’s also the White House’s weak sister who would be most likely to send a strongly written letter to Putin asking him to hold his ground. You can picture the laughter in Moscow over this.
Many in the west believe Putin may be behind the refugee crisis in Belarus. It’s easy to see who is the master of Europe when NATO nations grovel before him asking him to not raise energy prices as Ukraine and the Baltic countries are under threat from the Russian military.
Putin exposes NATO once again as a hollow shell.