EAST VS. WEST: CAN PUTIN BE DETERRED?
By: Steve Johnson
Truenewsblog – As Putin builds up his forces along the South and Eastern border of Ukraine, the Biden administration has been working hard to stop Putin from invading Ukraine. So who is to blame if the Russian army takes over UKRAINE? What will the West do? Will they rush to Ukraine’s defense?
Hopefully, no one has to answer these questions, and that is the reason why Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States have outlined a two-pronged strategy for countering Vladimir Putin in the hope of starving off an invasion of Ukraine.
The West has shaped the narrative through strategic public disclosures of intelligence. As many observers have noted, the U.S. has made a point of telling the world precisely what it thinks Putin is doing, both to box in his next moves and to convince the world that any conflict would be his fault alone.
The administration is openly acknowledging its war for the public narrative. A senior State Department official said this week that “Officials across the State Department are flooding the airwaves with a media blitz of information on Russia and Ukraine, highlighting the incredible diplomatic efforts taking place right now and to underscore the United States solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
This week, the second part of the strategy started becoming clear: multilateral condemnations through various international gatherings. The idea that nations should work together with partners and allies to combat security threats has, of course, long been the norm in diplomatic circles — in theory, if not always in practice. But, this week, the world leaned hard on transatlantic — and global — solidarity as a force multiplier to show Putin the world is unified against him.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a last-minute trip to the premier multilateral gathering, the U.N Security Council. He continued the strategy of outlining what the U.S. expects Russia to do, saying, “We are laying it out in great detail, with the hope that by sharing what we know with the world, we can influence Russia to abandon the path of war and choose a different path.”
The choice of the Security Council seemed to symbolize an effort to get the world on board with a U.S. push to prevent an invasion. (Blinken seemed to nod to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous U.N. speech on Iraq when he said, “I am here today, not to start a war, but to prevent one.”)
This week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg used another important multilateral forum — the NATO defense ministerial in Brussels — to dispute Kremlin claims that Russia is pulling troops back from the Ukraine border and state that NATO is aware of Russian false-flag operations. Stoltenberg’s speech seemed part of the collective effort to push back on Russia’s de-escalatory narrative by sharing the allies’ knowledge of Russian plans.
On Thursday in Brussels, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin similarly sounded the alarm, and President Joe Biden reiterated the warning from Washington. Yet, allied capitals seem remarkably united around a strategy of disclosing Putin’s plans hoping that he will change them.
Today also kicks off one of the most important unofficial multilateral gatherings, the Munich Security Conference, with Vice President Kamala Harris attending alongside Blinken. It’s sure to be one of the most tense editions of the transatlantic confab in recent memory.
Can international solidarity, combined with a full-court press of intelligence leaks, stop Putin? If Western officials’ pronouncements are any indication, the outlook is bleak.
But Putin is ultimately deterred, it’ll be a huge win for the Biden administration’s information-heavy strategy — as well as for the long-touted idea that like-minded partners can work together in Biden administration’s information-heavy strategy — as well as for the long-touted idea that like-minded partners can work together in concert to beat back global threats.