Washington chooses to ignore Putin’s threats – 01/05/2022 at 16:37


President Joe Biden announced a major extension of Ukraine’s budget, Thursday, April 28, 2022 at the White House (AFP/Jim Watson)

By mustering 40 countries and providing a $33 billion budget for Ukraine, Washington is choosing to ignore Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons and confront Moscow in a less veiled fashion, apparently not afraid to push the Russian president to his limits.

The day after a Washington-organized meeting in Ramstein, Germany to organize nearly forty countries’ support for Ukraine, Mr. Putin on Wednesday promised a “quick and light” response in the event of outside interference in the conflict.

“Those tools that no one else can currently boast of,” the Russian president mentioned, in a somewhat veiled reference to the tactical nuclear weapon, which Russian military doctrine states use to force an opponent to retreat.

Far from backing down, Joe Biden responded the next day by asking Congress for a massive budget extension of $33 billion, of which 20 billion should go to supplying weapons, nearly seven times more than the impressive amounts. Weapons and ammunition that have already been supplied to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, which began on February 24.

An American howitzer, of the same type delivered to Ukraine, boarded a military aircraft from a base in California, April 28, 2022 (US MARINE CORPS / Staff Sgt. Royce H. Dorman)

An American howitzer, of the same type delivered to Ukraine, boarded a military aircraft from a base in California, April 28, 2022 (US MARINE CORPS / Staff Sgt. Royce H. Dorman)

The US administration is now handing over heavy weapons to Kyiv, such as artillery, helicopters and drones, after hesitating for a long time for fear of spreading the conflict to other NATO countries.

That concern appears to have faded in Washington, where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin set his sights Monday on “seeing Russia so weak it can’t do the same things as invading Ukraine,” after returning from a visit to Kyiv.

Within the US government, the nuclear threat from Russia has now been pushed aside.

And so Joe Biden criticized Vladimir Putin’s “irresponsible” threats on Thursday, arguing that they showed “the sense of desperation that Russia feels, in the face of its miserable failure with regard to its primary goals.”

On Friday, a senior Pentagon official said Washington “does not believe there is a risk that nuclear weapons will be used or that NATO territory is threatened.”

– Taking Russian threats ‘less seriously’ –

For Lawrence Friedman, Professor Emeritus at King’s College London, the various threats from Russia are “taken less seriously than before”. “It really is a waning force,” he adds on his blog.

Vladimir Putin on December 7, 2021 in Sochi by video link with Joe Biden (Sputnik / Mikhail Metzl)

Vladimir Putin on December 7, 2021 in Sochi by video link with Joe Biden (Sputnik / Mikhail Metzl)

Conclusions shared by Gideon Rose, of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “Moscow will not use nuclear weapons during the conflict,” he said in Foreign Affairs.

He adds that Vladimir Putin “knows that extraordinary reprisals and global contempt will follow, without any strategic advantage being able to justify them, not to mention that the radioactive effects this would cause could easily fall on Russia.”

Although Mr. Biden claims the United States is “not attacking Russia,” Washington has just rushed military equipment to Ukraine, and is now openly training Ukrainian soldiers in American heavy weapons, having done so discreetly.

A Ukrainian soldier on the roof of an armored car near Slovinsk in the east of the country on April 26, 2022 (AFP/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

A Ukrainian soldier on the roof of an armored car near Slovinsk in the east of the country on April 26, 2022 (AFP/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

So the conflict takes on all semblance of a “proxy war” against Moscow, through the mediation of the Ukrainians, as Princeton University’s Sam Winter Levy points out in the specialist blog War on the Rocks.

This type of proxy war, such as the war between Saudi Arabia and Iran through the Houthi rebels in Yemen, “is the worst possible outcome” because it presents the risk of escalation and this type of war generally lasts a long time, this expert estimates. who also collaborates with the US Military Academy at West Point.

But, he adds, “it might be the best possible option,” because Westerners “have no choice.” “Ultimately, the only option worse than a proxy war is a cheap Russian victory in Ukraine, or a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia.”

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