Russian invasion sees no political gain for Biden
Ukrainian expatriates gather outside the building housing the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq in Arbil, to condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine. AFP
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has turned into a war of miscalculations and misinformation. Russian President Vladimir Putin miscalculated when he thought that a massive troop deployment to Ukraine’s borders would force Kyiv to give up any possibility of joining NATO, which is advancing among the neighbors of the Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Putin sees this process as an existential threat to Russia.
At the end of the 1990s and in the 2000s, NATO admitted ten former members of the Warsaw Pact and states of the former Soviet Union: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania , Slovakia and Slovenia. Russian concerns intensified when NATO announced its intention to recruit Georgia and Ukraine without giving a date for their admission.
For Moscow, the idea that Ukraine, a country with close ethnic, linguistic, religious and historical ties to Russia, could join NATO is anathema. In 2008, Putin told US Ambassador to Russia William Burns, who is now the US Director of Central Intelligence: “No Russian leader could stand idly by in the face of Ukraine to NATO. It would be a hostile act towards Russia.
Although NATO did not offer Georgia and Ukraine a path to membership at that time, the alliance asserted that they could join. Subsequently, four more countries – Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia – were admitted, increasing Russian concerns.
Russia maintains that following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany in 1990, US Secretary of State James Baker told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that “there is no would not extend NATO jurisdiction for NATO forces one inch to the east”. .” Moscow maintains that the United States and NATO rejected this commitment and gradually expanded until the alliance reached Russia’s borders via Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
Putin has submitted draft treaties to the United States that could halt NATO expansion and limit the positioning of troops, weapons and military equipment that could threaten Russia on the territory of current NATO members. NATO. While Western politicians and analysts argue that Russia’s demands are unacceptable, they could have been a starting point for negotiations with Putin. It didn’t happen and left Putin frustrated and furious. However, as his troops gathered at the borders of Ukraine, he repeatedly said that he had no intention of invading that country.
It is unclear if this was a ruse or, if not, when he changed his mind. Last week, monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported multiple ceasefire violations between government-held areas and the Donbass region where Russian-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.
US President Joe Biden miscalculated because he thought Putin would bow to US and NATO pressure and threats. Furthermore, there has been an extensive media campaign to isolate and demonize him and undermine Russia’s trust in him. As a longtime Senate veteran and former vice president, Biden should have known that Putin was not likely to capitulate and withdraw his troops without concessions from NATO, especially since he had committed 100 000 to 120,000 or, if the hype is to be believed, 190,000.
As the United States is located in an Atlantic Ocean far from the shores of Europe and even further from Northern Europe, Biden has been free to do as he pleases and suits his purposes. He need not worry about his country being caught up in the fighting and can afford to take an aggressive line towards Russia and Putin. Biden has been backed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is seeking to divert British attention from the holidays to his office and residence during a pandemic lockdown.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg used the occasion to make the alliance relevant. For the first time in its 73-year history, it is deploying elements of its Rapid Reaction Force to NATO members.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz deemed the US-British policy risky and attempted mediation without success. Other European countries, including Italy and Hungary, were wary of the march to war. Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky balked, asked the West for money and help, but warned Biden to tone down the rhetoric.
Instead, Biden kept the pressure on. He’s desperate. His approval rating stands at 37% while 55% disapprove of his performance, he was unable to get his “Build Back Better” legislation through Congress and his party faces losses in the November elections.
Since Russian troops entered Ukraine last Thursday, Biden has become wartime president. However, he has been accused by his critics of underestimating Putin and ignoring his demands. So far, Biden has not won politically from the Russian invasion. When he comes before the public, Biden is tense and assertive. He does not appear to have empathy for Ukrainians caught up in the conflict, just as he lacked empathy for the Afghans he abandoned to the Taliban when he withdrew US troops from Afghanistan last August.
Biden has too clearly forgotten what happened to former President George HW Bush. He went to war in Iraq in 1991 and lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton who focused on Bush’s handling of the struggling economy. Clinton’s slogan was, “It’s the economy, you idiot.”
Even if Biden receives a boost from the war, Democrats could lose seats in the November legislative election because of the economy. His COVID relief packages have ended, he hasn’t been able to extend them, and inflation is at its worst in decades. The war in Ukraine has already begun to fuel inflation by raising gas prices in the United States, thereby increasing the cost of transporting food, medicine and goods.
War is never a good option. Biden advisers may not have considered the unintended consequences of this war and should have done everything possible to avoid it. He could very well be another one-term president like George HW Bush. To make matters worse, Biden could turn into a lame duck during his last two years in power and be replaced by Donald Trump.