All the ingredients of a possible international crisis are there:
—Russia now has an estimated 100,000 troops on the border of its neighbor, Ukraine, an independent neighbor of Russia today that was previously part of the Cold War Soviet Union.
—According to Washington Post correspondent Missy Ryan, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to meet Dec. 2 with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of an OSCE summit in Stockholm, Sweden.
—Ms. Ryan’s report, co-authored with the Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, quoted NATO officials’ warnings “of serious consequences” should Moscow launch an invasion of Ukraine. Simultaneously, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded on Dec.1 “guarantees against NATO’s eastward expansion.”
The Post went on to quote Secretary of State Blinken as cautioning: “We don’t know whether President Putin has made a decision to invade (Ukraine). We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he decide to do that.
“So, despite uncertainty about intentions and timing, we must prepare for all contingencies while seeing to it that Russia reverses course.”
In a dispatch from Moscow, New York Times correspondent Anton Troianovski reported on Dec. 1 that Mr. Putin demanded “legal guarantees” that the NATO alliance would never expand eastward, “as the West scrambles to respond to Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to Times correspondent Troianovski, responded: “It’s only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO. Russia has no veto, Russia has no say, and Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence in an attempt to control its neighbors.”
The Times Moscow correspondent adds that Vladimir Putin appears to be seeking direct talks with President Biden, who, he says, has sought dialogue with the Kremlin and “a stable and predictable relationship with Russia, seeking agreement on issues of mutual interest.”
He quotes Russian officials as saying they are preparing for a call or videoconference between Presidents Biden and Putin before the end of this year. In fact, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken met with his Russian counterpart Sergei V. Lavrov in Stockholm.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More