Russia-Ukraine Tensions: All NATO Allies Stand With Ukraine, Ready to Impose “High Impact” Sanctions On Russia

All NATO allies are in solidarity with Ukraine about alleged Russian aggression and stand ready to impose “high impact” economic sanctions which have never been used before, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday.

“All of the NATO allies were in solidarity with Ukraine today and making clear that we are resolute in supporting your independence, and we are also resolute in sending the message to Moscow that if it moves again to internally destabilize Ukraine or use its forces to enter the country that it will be met with high impact economic measures the likes of which we have not used before from all of us,” Nuland told the Kiev Security Forum via teleconference.

Nuland noted that during the NATO ministerial meeting that took place in Riga, Latvia, earlier in the day, the situation in Ukraine was one of the main topics of discussion.

The United States urges Ukraine to stay united and restraint when faced with alleged military provocations and disinformation from Russia, Nuland added.

NATO Concerned 

NATO foreign ministers believe that it is necessary to avoid escalation between Russia and Ukraine, the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Wednesday.

“We need to remain vigilant and avoid escalation. Ministers have made clear that any future Russian aggression will have a high price and will have serious economic and political consequences for Russia,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference following the alliance’s foreign ministers meeting.

File:Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva, 16 June 2021 (05).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva, 16 June 2021 – Wikimedia Commons

According to Stoltenberg, Russia’s alleged military buildup near the border with Ukraine pursues just one aim – to force Kiev into Moscow’s sphere of influence, which contradicts international law as Russia cannot “put limitations on what sovereign independent nations can do.”

“That is only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies to decide when Ukraine will join the alliance. Russia has no veto, Russia has no say in that question,” Stoltenberg added.

Over the past week, Ukraine and some Western countries have expressed concern about the alleged increase in “aggressive actions” by Russia on its border with Ukraine. However, Moscow has said that it is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion. On November 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russia did not have any aggressive plans.

Blinken Speaks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States is not sure whether Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, but it does know that the Russian president is putting in place the capacity to do so without delay if need be.

“We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade,” Blinken said. “We do know that he’s putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide.”

“We’re deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for significant aggressive moves against Ukraine,” Blinken said following a NATO ministerial meeting in Riga. “The plans include efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within as well as large scale military operations.”

“I found tremendous solidarity across the board in a determination and willingness to pursue strong measures if Russia invades Ukraine and commits renewed acts of aggression.”

“NATO itself is a defensive alliance. Not a threat to Russia. We don’t have aggressive intent toward Russia. Every step that we take is designed to make sure that we have in place effective defensive measures to protect the members of the alliance,” Blinken said during a press briefing in Riga, Latvia following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

More Arms To Ukraine?

The US global force posture review, newly approved by President Joe Biden, could pave the way for sending more arms to Ukraine and provoking a confrontation with Russia, analysts told Sputnik.

File:Russia Ukraine Locator.png - Wikimedia Commons
Russia (Green) & Ukraine (Orange) Map

The Pentagon in a statement on Monday said the new Global Posture Review (GPR), which has been accepted by Biden, strengthens “the combat credible deterrent” in Europe against Russia and enables NATO forces to operate more effectively.

The Defense Department also said it was based on GPR assessments that Biden in February decided to rescind the 25,000 US force cap the Trump administration imposed in Germany.

“In addition to the planned increase in force levels in Germany and presumably Poland, which are more symbolic than actually a deterrent, I would expect to see more steps involving sending more offensive weapons and trainer/advisers to Ukraine,” former CIA analyst Phil Giraldi told Sputnik.

Giraldi also warned the move could backfire and spark an unnecessary conflict.

“As Russia has no serious intention to recreate the old Soviet Union, nor the resources to do so, the move will be counterproductive, crossing red lines related to vital Russian interests while also alarming those in power in the Kremlin and possibly provoking a crisis where no crisis actually existed,” Giraldi said.

It all demonstrates, he added, how out of touch with reality the Biden administration has proven to be.

American University in Moscow President Edward Lozansky believes Biden appeared to want to hold further direct discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin first, but the posture left the way open for expanding US weapons supplies to Ukraine.

“I think they’d prefer to keep things vague until Biden speaks with Putin but I’d not exclude stationing sizable numbers of the US and NATO military personnel and increasing lethal hardware supplies [to Ukraine], including missile defense equipment,” Lozansky told Sputnik.

Hardliners in Washington knew they could count on the UK and small NATO member states of Central Europe to support them in ratcheting up tensions, Lozansky cautioned. US Congress most likely will approve stationing troops and advisers in Ukraine while increasing the flow of military armaments, Lozansky predicted, which will force the Russians to respond – perhaps asymmetrically.

Moreover, Lozansky added, the fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “unstable” makes the whole drama even more dangerous.

“The smell of war is in the air and the sooner Biden tells the former comedian and the Pentagon to cool it the better,” Lozansky said.

University of Pittsburgh Professor of International Affairs Michael Brenner said the force posture’s only real significance was that it would embolden Zelenskyy and other gamblers in Kiev to try and provoke new collisions between Washington and Moscow.

“This is all play-acting by self-interested fantasists who are disconnected from reality. It is all based on fallacies and lies. Totally meaningless,” Brenner said.

The Biden administration was giving the Ukrainians tacit encouragement to try a “Hail Mary” – or desperate gamble, in US football terms in the Donbas to save a disintegrating regime and its head Zelenskyy, Brenner warned.

“If they go ahead, they’ll be wiped out in ten days, NATO will do nothing and Washington will be humiliated. Perhaps, that’s something to be welcomed,” Brenner added.

Independent Institute Center on Peace & Liberty Director Ivan Eland told Sputnik the strategic reality remained that Russia would probably be able to keep up with any US military improvement in Europe, Germany and Ukraine.

“The United States would need to bring forces from much farther,” Eland said. “Therefore, any US increase in capability could lead to retaliation and further escalation.”