The United States and its allies warn that the time for diplomacy with Russia is running out

(The hill) – The United States and world leaders warn that the time for diplomacy to prevent Russian invasion of Ukraine is running out.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin On February 15, Moscow will host German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, one of the last scheduled diplomatic meetings with the senior European leader as part of the West’s efforts to reduce tensions in the region.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday, the administration said the Russian invasion of Ukraine “could begin at any moment”, but added that she did not believe Putin had made a final decision to launch an attack.

President Biden He is expected to talk to Putin on the phone on Saturday.

European officials reiterate the Biden administration’s sense of urgency combined with calls for Russia to accept diplomacy.

“As far as I understand, we are living in the most dangerous moment for security in Europe since the end of the Cold War,” EU foreign policy chief Joseph Barrel said in Washington this week.

“But at the same time, we believe that there is still room for diplomacy. … Be prepared for the worst and try to avoid it ”.

The build-up of the Russian army has surrounded Ukraine on three sides, with more than 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border; 30,000 Russian servicemen wage war games with Belarus on Ukraine’s northern border; and Russian warships moving into the Black Sea.

On Friday, Sullivan said the United States believes that if that happens, the Russian invasion against Ukraine is likely to begin with an air campaign of bombings and missile strikes, followed by a ground invasion.

Russian officials insist they do not intend to invade Ukraine. They reject condemnation of their military deployments and criticize US and European leaders for failing to take their security demands seriously, including halting NATO enlargement and withdrawing NATO troops from countries that joined the alliance after 1997.

The United States described the requirements as non-initial, offering to talk about security issues. But Russia shows little that it is open to serious diplomacy.

Putin’s recent meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and the meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and British Foreign Secretary Liz Trass were seen as both physically and rhetorically cold and distant.

The meeting between Macron and Putin was marked by them sitting across from each other at a 13-foot table, and the French leader was reportedly deliberately kept at a distance after refusing to take the COVID-19 test conducted by Russia.

Then Russian officials rejected Macron’s claims that the meeting had made progress. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “in the current situation, Moscow and Paris can not reach any agreements,” according to the Associated Press.

The meeting between Lavrov and Rabbit was no less harsh: the Russian diplomat described their interaction as “between a dumb and a deaf man,” according to Reuters.

“It’s almost like Moscow’s decision to go out of their way to be rude to foreign leaders and diplomats visiting Moscow, I don’t know how that portends Schultz’s visit,” said Stephen Pifer, a foreign researcher at the Brookings Institution. .

“Moscow seems to be curtailing all possible ways of diplomacy, so I’m afraid they’re in a corner … and now they’re in a position where they either have to use military force or the Kremlin has to make a rather awkward get off.”

Scholz’s arrival in Moscow came after his meeting with Biden and lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday, where both sides stressed to emphasize US-German solidarity despite the conflict over the fate of a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany called the Nord Stream. 2 ».

Saint. Zhanna Shahin (DN.H.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who met with Scholz during his visit to Washington, told The Hill that she wants German Chancellor to make it clear to Putin that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will shut down the pipeline.

“I think he should say very clearly the situation with Nord Stream 2 and let him know what the allies have said, that if he invades Ukraine, this Nord Stream will not go,” she said.

It is unclear whether Scholz will speak clearly and firmly in Moscow. At a news conference with Biden, he failed to name the pipeline specifically.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Suggested the chancellor was limited in what he could say publicly, given his broad ruling coalition in the German parliament, but said Scholz had a “sincere conversation” with lawmakers.

“There are some things that Scholz can say out loud, and there are some things that he can’t. “I am confident that Nord Stream 2 will not be launched,” Murphy said.

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate shared how to fight the pipeline in a sanctions package against Moscow.

Republicans want to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which Democrats say will damage U.S. relations with Germany. Efforts to create a bipartisan package of sanctions stalled partly through these differences.

“We need to send a clear message to Putin, our allies, that we are united and that we are going to take decisive action if Putin decides to invade Ukraine,” Shahin told The Hill.

Experts say Biden has more than enough power to impose sanctions on Russia without legislation. The administration is adapting the sanctions regime in coordination with allies and partners in Europe, the UK and Canada.

William Taylor, a former ambassador to Ukraine and vice president of the Russia and Europe program of the US Peace Institute, said the sanctions under discussion were aimed at “immediate, destructive effects”, targeting Putin and his inner circle. He said they would also strike at the Russian people, which would increase the domestic price for Putin.

“The sanctions we are talking about against major Russian banks are devastating for ordinary Russians,” Taylor said.

“It is a pity to say, but they will not be able to receive pensions, will not be able to pay credit card debts, will not be able to get loans – it really happens to harm the Russian people. Again, this is not a goal, a goal to keep Putin from doing so. “

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