Biden boxed in on Ukraine – Axios

Putin’s whims will ultimately be the deciding factor.

— Read on

  • “Officials from virtually all sides are warning that the risk of a large-scale, conventional war on the European continent is greater than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Few agree on how to stop it.”
  • Republicans who regularly travel to Russia and who supported Putin during the Trump administration are now trying to claim they are tougher on Russia than the Democrats.
  • U.S. officials have claimed in recent days that they have intelligence showing that Russia is organizing a “false flag” operation which would create a pretext for a Russian conventional invasion of Ukraine.
  • While sanctions are threatened, the sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 failed to either reestablish Crimea as an independent entity or deter Putin from further aggressive actions.
  • One European official maintained that a sanctions strategy was being planned that could be announced within hours of a potential invasion.
  • Note: Many argue that the sanctions should have already been imposed. The Ukrainians are trying to push Biden into sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline now rather than waiting until after an invasion.
  • The energy situation in the EU, especially Germany, makes it unlikely that strong energy sanctions will be imposed.
  • The new German government (more environmentally conscious than the previous one) has been unwilling to commit to blocking Nord Stream 2.
  • Because of an agreement struck with Germany by the Biden administration, Democrats recently found themselves voting against sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
  • Note: Given this agreement, it is hard to see how reaction to Nord Stream 2 can even be a threat.

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