The war of nerves continues in the East. The Russian armed forces launched a new series of maneuvers in southern Russia on Tuesday, January 25, particularly near Ukraine, and in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed in 2014. These exercises involve 6,000 men, fighter planes and bombers.
It is an operation “joint” which involves in particular “air force and anti-aircraft, groups of ships of the Black Sea and Caspian fleets”, said the commander of the Russian forces for the south of Russia, Alexander Dvornikov.
Moscow, which has deployed tens of thousands of troops in recent months near Ukraine, also announced last week naval maneuvers in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific and Mediterranean, as well as joint exercises. in Belarus, on the borders of the European Union.
Imminent risk, according to Washington
This latest show of force comes the day after the United States announced that it was placing 8,500 of its military personnel on alert, as well as the announcement that the families of American diplomats would leave Ukraine because the imminent risk, according to Washington, of a Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.
“It is with great concern that we see these American actions”, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. For him, the United States is thus provoking a new “escalation of tensions”.
Ukraine is also due to receive a new shipment from the United States on Tuesday, including “equipment and ammunition to strengthen the Ukrainian armed forces”, according to the details of the American Embassy on Monday. This is part of the $200 million in assistance granted by the White House recently.
NATO, for its part, announced the placement of standby forces and the dispatch of ships and combat aircraft to strengthen its defenses in Eastern Europe, and this as Russia considers Alliance troops in its vicinity as an existential threat.
Westerners accuse Moscow of having deployed more than 100,000 soldiers on the border of Ukraine, in view of a possible invasion, and this when Russia has already annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea after a pro-Western revolution in his neighbour.
Rejection of NATO enlargement
Russia denies any offensive project, but demands, in order to get out of the crisis, the drafting of texts guaranteeing the non-enlargement of NATO. It also calls for the withdrawal of Atlantic Alliance forces and armaments from Eastern European countries that joined the Alliance after 1997. Moscow has promised “the most serious consequences” si its “legitimate concerns” were ignored.
These demands have been deemed unacceptable in Europe and America, but it is assured that Moscow’s security concerns are taken seriously and that we want to negotiate solutions.
After a round of talksWashington is due to submit a written response to Russian demands this week. At the same time, putting American troops on alert seemed to take certain European leaders by surprise, anxious not to provoke the Kremlin.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to propose “a path of de-escalation” to Vladimir Putin “in the next few days”. The Kremlin confirmed an interview within the week. Paris also hosts a meeting of high-ranking advisers with Germany, Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday, to try to revive a format of dialogue dating from 2015, today at a standstill. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, called not to “to dramatize” the situation.
Sanctions under discussion
In the event of an invasion of Ukraine, the West is planning sanctions of unprecedented severity, Boris Johnson confirmed on Tuesday. However, the Kremlin has always shown itself insensitive to this type of reprisal.
A series of options have been prepared by the European Commission. The reduction of Russian gas and oil purchases, which represent 43% and 20% of the European Union’s supply, is on the table, a European source told Agence France-Presse, but the subject divides Europeans.
US President Joe Biden is considering banning Russian banks from using the dollar, which would be a severe blow to the country’s finance and real economy.