The Biden family’s lucrative entanglements with Ukraine seem to be drawing the United
States closer to some kind of confrontation with Russia.
Alexandra Odyanova reporting for CBS News said Ukraine's government claims that requests by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine have been ignored. Moscow denied receiving any request from Kyiv for such talks.
Tension between the neighbors has grown steadily for several weeks, with intensified skirmishes in eastern Ukraine — a region that has been mired in conflict since Russia first backed Ukrainian-Russian separatists there seven years ago. Putin has sent thousands of troops toward the Ukrainian border recently, raising concerns among leaders of the United States and European Union.
CBS further reported Russia had massed more than 40,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border, and more than 40,000 in Crimea, the region that Putin unilaterally annexed away from Ukraine and declared Russian in 2014.
The Biden response to this latest European crisis has been mixed, to be charitable.
"President Biden's been very clear about this: If Russia acts recklessly or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences," Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an interview over the weekend.
Does this mean Biden is about to adopt Trump’s approach and demand that Germany kill the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia once and for all?
According to reporting by Oliver Towfigh Nia the Biden administration is "determined to use all available levers to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2," the spokesman for the US embassy in Berlin, Joseph Giordono-Scholz, told Der Tagesspiegel.
If the answer is yes, Biden is continuing Trump’s effort to reduce Russian adventurism by depriving Putin of the income from the pipeline and the leverage over European energy supplies it would bestow that would be good.
But the Biden people have remained mum on any lethal aid for Ukraine’s beleaguered forces, which lost four soldiers to Russian shelling last week, Biden’s Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin instead announced that the U.S. would not draw down its troops in Germany as Trump planned, but would instead send 500 additional troops.
When asked if the additional troops were a signal to Russia opposing its buildup of forces at the Ukrainian border, Austin somewhat bizarrely said it’s a message “that we support NATO in the fullest extent.”
That statement was bizarre because Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
Ukraine signed a partnership agreement with NATO in 1997 and launched talks on full membership in 2005. But, as Defense News reported, those talks never progressed far, and the situation was dramatically complicated when Russia invaded Ukrainian territory in 2014, annexing Crimea and launching irregular warfare in other parts of the country.
Admitting Ukraine to NATO at this juncture would, in essence, mean committing the United States and our European allies to defending Ukraine and perhaps even going to war to kick Russia out the Ukrainian territory it now occupies.
So, do Blinken and Austin think Russian tank forces are going to come pouring through the Fulda Gap as the old Cold War Doomsday scenario once suggested?
And what are the 500 guys they are sending to Germany going to do about it if the Russians are coming?
President Trump’s approach to European security was based on the Europeans looking after themselves by increasing their defense spending, disconnecting them from dependence on Russian energy and providing the Ukrainians with the lethal aid necessary to keep the Russians at bay, all while reducing the American military footprint in Europe.
At this point it is unclear what Biden intends, but his kneejerk instinct to do the opposite of whatever Trump did bodes ill for American taxpayers and the goal of peacefully curbing Russian ambitions to reestablish the old Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe.
Russian military buildup
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Nord Stream 2 pipeline
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
U.S. troops in Germany
Russian energy dependence
Lethal aid for Ukraine