As the world has been watching tensely to see if Russia is going to attack its post-Soviet neighbor Ukraine, the Biden administration has been scrambling to dissuade Russian leader Vladimir Putin from doing it.
At the same time, Biden himself made it clear US troops wouldn’t be sent to Ukraine to fight the Russians if Putin attacks Ukraine.
Leaving America’s Military Door Open for the First Time
Speaking in live interviews on Sunday, Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken left the door open to some sort of an American “military involvement,” in case Russia launches an assault on the Ukrainians.
Blinken refused to rule out potential US military involvement in Ukraine. This might be the most tangible sign to date from the Biden administration that the US might tackle likely Russian aggression, aside from “crippling” economic sanctions.
He left it at that and didn’t offer any details whatsoever as to what a possible American military involvement in Ukraine might look like.
The UK, one of America’s closest allies and a key member of NATO, already sent Ukraine several planeloads of anti-tank missile systems and other defensive weapons, while dispatching a couple of hundred troops to train Ukrainians on how to use them.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 22, 2022
The Sanctions Kept as a Deterrent
Blinken actually went so far as to suggest the invasion of Ukraine by even “a single Russian force” could trigger a global response on part of the West towards Moscow. This would be “swift, severe, and united.”
Biden’s secretary of state didn’t specify whether his refusal to rule out America’s military involvement in Ukraine implied the possibility of putting US boots on the ground.
However, he stressed if Russia attacks, there will be a build-up of both Ukraine’s defense capacities and of NATO’s defense capacities on its eastern flank. This encompasses precisely “the countries near Russia.”
Blinken then declared there would be no point in slapping huge sanctions on Russia right now because this way, the sanctions can’t be used for deterrence purposes.
The US secretary of state then insisted there was an obligation on the part of the US administration to exhaust all diplomatic means before any other measures could be invoked.
In his interview for NBC’s Face The Nation, Blinken admitted the possibility that Moscow might be going through the rounds of diplomatic talks with the US and NATO as a charade. He also said these talks might not affect Putin’s final decision on whether to wage war on the Ukrainians.
Blinken didn’t give a clear answer on when he thought a Russian attack might start, but he insisted the United States is monitoring the situation extremely closely.
At the end of last week, GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, predicted Russia will attack Ukraine “next month”, while China might attack Taiwan, at the same time.
"We've given Russia two paths. There's a path of diplomacy and dialogue… But there's also a path of its renewed aggression and massive consequences," says Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the threat of Russia invading Ukraine. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/txGKoEfhjV
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 23, 2022
.@SecBlinken on why there hasn't been sweeping sanctions on Russia for its provocations in Ukraine: “Once sanctions are triggered, you lose the deterrent effect. So what we're doing is putting together a whole series of actions that would figure into President Putin's calculus.” pic.twitter.com/41NYN8xy31
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 23, 2022
▶️U.S. airmen prepare ammunition, weapons and other equipment for shipment to Ukraine at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) January 23, 2022