Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not sit at the talks table throughout the week in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna, but it was he who, as Russia’s top diplomat, s is responsible for delivering what looks suspiciously like an ultimatum.
Our patience is running out, Sergei Lavrov said Friday at a press conference that lasted three hours in Moscow.
” We believe that our partners have understood the need to react quickly, precisely and on paper. And they understood that we are not going to wait forever. »
Russia demands nothing less than a new security pact.
Among the many guarantees demanded, the main one remains the halt in the expansion of theNATO to the east to eliminate any possibility of Ukraine joining. Russia is thus demanding the withdrawal of military deployments in member countries that share its borders.
In other words, Russia wants to neutralize its neighbors like Poland and the Baltic countries, which joined the Atlantic Alliance after 1997, and ensure thatNATO will never again spread out his arms and boots in the vicinity of the Kremlin.
These demands have been firmly rejected by the United States and by the Secretary General of theNATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who could not have been clearer.
” We will never compromise on the right of countries to choose their path and on the fundamental principles of security in Europe. »
L’NATO and the United States, on the other hand, propose to explore with Russia – and with Vladimir Putin in person – other avenues to rebuild confidence, in particular reciprocal agreements to limit the deployment of weapons and the holding of exercises near the Russian border.
However, for Vladimir Putin’s government, talking for the sake of talking is simply not worth it anymore. There will be no compromise.
If Moscow has not completely closed the door to a resumption of dialogue, the Russians do not see for the moment the need to organize new meetings.
Russia is therefore awaiting a written and detailed response from the United States. Sergei Lavrov did not want to specify the exact consequences that an end of inadmissibility would have on the ground, but he confirms that it will be a military action.
Where? When? How? ‘Or’ What?
These decisions will be guided by our military advisors, said the minister.
We are preparing for any eventuality.
Russia is ready for war, that is an objective and indisputable fact., says military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer.
She is ready for a big war that may or may not break out, no one really knows.
Washington will have at least succeeded this week in repelling the threat by a few months, according to Mr. Felgenhauer.
However, in the spring, after the snow has completely melted, there will be another ideal window to launch the assault on Ukraine.
In the meantime, the 100,000 Russian soldiers deployed on Ukraine’s borders will not move until Russia wins its case.
We have to go back to the years that followed the fall of the Soviet Union to better understand Russia’s arguments, more precisely the unwritten promises that the West had undertaken to respect regarding the ambitions of theNATO in Eastern Europe.
In his annual press briefing last December, President Putin once again spoke about what Russia considers a historic betrayal.
” The West betrayed us with five waves of expansion, and now these are defense systems that are appearing in Romania and Poland more recently. There are military bases around us. In the east, south and north of Russia, new military systems were installed, including at sea, not to mention the west. »
The Russian government considers that the country has been treated unfairly and that he gave in too much after the fall of theUSSR, explains political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya.
There’s a consensus in government that it’s the turn of the West to make concessions, and let’s just say Russia has good reason to be enraged, says Ms. Stanovaya. These grievances are not new, but this conviction of having been deceived fuels mistrust in Russia, she says.
” Russia realizes the obvious: no matter the state of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Kiev is constantly moving closer to the NATO and their military cooperation is bonded together. Russia is confronted with this reality and has decided that a radical approach must be taken to reverse the trend. »
Like most observers we spoke to, Tatiana Stanovaya doesn’t dare to make exact predictions about what’s next.
But I have a very strong feeling that we are headed for military actions by Russia in order to protect its interests., she specifies, and this, insofar as she sees no scenario emerging under which NATO would give in to Moscow’s demands.
In Washington, the situation is just as grim today.
The risks of an invasion are most certainly highsaid Jake Sullivan of the US State Department.
A costly geopolitical threat
The confrontation between Russia and the West as well as the failure of the current negotiations made themselves felt in the markets almost immediately. The ruble fell more than 3% against the US dollar.
The specter of explosive sanctions that Russia faces if it invades Ukrainian territory also contributes to instability.
A document partially unveiled by US senators this week reveals that the new sanctions bill would target Russia’s banking system, senior military officials and most importantly President Vladimir Putin himself.
The bill also encourages the United States to examine the measures necessary to block the activity of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will transport Russian natural gas to Germany, a project described in this document as a tool.
of malevolent influence of Russia.
This is what makes other observers, like the Ukrainian journalist Illia Ponomarenko, interviewed in Kiev, say that an invasion is unlikely.
” Our enemy is cruel but not stupid. They need their billions invested in the West and they value their villas in the south of France too much. »
Originally from the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, this journalist specializing in national defense issues recounts having lived through two revolutions and several conflicts.
” If you ask anyone on the street here for their opinion, they’ll tell you not to worry too much. This is not to minimize the military threat, not at all, but it is a historical reality with which we live. Ukraine is threatened and always will be. »
Perhaps it was the rest of Europe that took the status quo for granted. This is at least one of the Kremlin’s arguments. The fact remains that in 2022, 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the confrontation is real.
The rest is between Washington and Moscow, which on either side are not revealing all their options, but the possibility of war cannot be ruled out, says military analyst Paveil Felgenhauer.
This is reality, this is the world we live in right now.