Russia has sparked a security crisis in Eastern Europe by surrounding Ukraine on three sides with 100,000 troops and, according to the White House’s account, sending in saboteurs to create a pretext for invasion. This week’s diplomatic marathon to defuse the crisis was not expected to yield significant results.
Russia Issues Subtle Threats More Far-Reaching Than A Ukraine Invasion
However, the Biden administration and NATO are increasingly concerned about another set of options for President Vladimir Putin, steps that are more far-reaching than simply rolling his troops and armour over Ukraine’s border, as they conduct tabletop simulations of the next few months’ possible outcomes.
Putin seeks to increase Russia’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and get guarantees from NATO that it would never expand again. On the margins of last week’s conversations, a few of his advisors hinted that if he is unsuccessful in achieving that aim, he will pursue Russia’s security interests, with consequences that will be felt most keenly in Europe and the United States.
The potential for a showdown reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was hinted at, but never explicitly stated; that nuclear weapons could be relocated to sites, maybe not far from the U.S. coastline, that would cut warning times after a launch to as low as five minutes.
According to Dmitry Suslov, a Moscow-based analyst who briefed Russian lawmakers behind closed doors last month on the standoff, “a hypothetical Russian invasion of Ukraine would not undermine the security of the United States.” The United States and NATO, according to Russia’s activities, “shall pay a severe price.”
Russia’s army of hackers can wreak havoc in Ukraine and also in power networks from Munich to Michigan, as Ukrainians were reminded once again on Friday when the websites of the country’s ministries were defaced in a rather amateurish operation.
It’s possible that this is just posturing on Putin’s behalf as part of a Kremlin effort designed to intimidate the United States and its vice president, Joe Biden, who wants to shift the country’s focus to competing with and dealing with China.