Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be preparing some kind of military action in Ukraine as NATO foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday to determine if there’s any way they can warn Russia off.
Putin has been massing troops on the Ukraine border, and U.S. intelligence has determined the move is not a bluff. But what else could they be for if not an invasion of Ukraine?
Some analysts believe the troops may be “invited” in by a new pro-Moscow Ukrainian government to be installed with the help of Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, accused Russia of backing a plan to overthrow him.
Mr. Zelensky told reporters Friday that he had received information through Ukrainian security services that a coup would be undertaken on Dec. 1-2, according to Ukraine’s national news agency, Ukrinform. He said the Ukrainian government had intelligence as well as audio intercepts in which Russian and Ukrainian conspirators were heard discussing the possible participation of billionaire Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov in the alleged plot.
Mr. Akhmetov’s spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegation.
Zelensky would like nothing better than to nudge NATO into taking a more aggressive stance against Russia in Ukraine. Warning of a non-existent “coup” wouldn’t be unexpected. But Zelensky knows that there are limits to what NATO will commit to — and that doesn’t include pulling his chestnuts out of the fire if Russia does indeed invade.
However, a pretense to invade from a pro-Russian government is certainly not beyond Putin’s reach and would fit in with his pledges not to invade Ukraine.
President Biden said Friday he is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and that “we object to anything remotely approaching” the alleged coup plot. He told reporters in Nantucket, Mass., that he would likely talk with Mr. Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Biden administration has yet to spell out what the consequences of Russian aggression would be.
The gathering of NATO foreign ministers, however, offers an opportunity for the West’s premier military alliance to take a unified stance against Russia’s saber rattling. But the alliance operates on the basis of consensus and perceptions of imminence of Russian action within the organization vary.
This Putin knows very well. And in less turbulent times, this consensus-building is a strength and has historically helped the alliance become the longest-lasting military alliance in history.
In the past, NATO pretty much did whatever the U.S. wanted. This simplified matters greatly. But now, with the EU a much bigger player in the power game, there is less willingness to simply rubber-stamp U.S. decisions. The meeting on Tuesday won’t resolve anything, and any statement of support for Ukraine and warning Russia against taking action is likely to be watered down to a bowl of meaningless mush.
Again, Putin is well aware of this. His true adversary is now, and always has been, the United States. And these days, America is led by a weak, senile, old fool who doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism.
No wonder Putin is confident going into any conflict with Joe Biden.