While Europe got passed 2021 in a more weakened position than 2020, it seems with the Merkel era coming to an end and the not so stable status of Macron in France and the Brexit from the EU, the Kremlin and White House leaders try to decide on major international issues without an outstanding role by the European Union, and along the way lately there have been several online calls and contacts between the Russian and American presidents during which they have discussed regional and international issues. Although the Ukraine and Nato expansion issues were at the center of Putin-Biden talks, no doubt, they have covered other major international matters like the Middle East, Afghanistan and JCPOA topics.
Before the last round of contacts, Putin wrote on Telegram:” I have been convinced.. That we can go ahead and have good Russian-American talks based on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s national interests.” Also after the call, the kremlin stated that it was content with the negotiations, but described the US sanctions against Moscow a grave mistake. It seems that the negotiations have been intimate and binding for both sides and it has been agreed that such contacts continue on a regular basis and at the highest levels. Also, on the other hand, in the Kremlin statement it has been mentioned that the talks had been focused on the coming negotiations about providing legally binding security guarantees to Russia and Putin had stressed its country’s stand and position on the recent proposals for achieving an agreement with the US and Nato and further stressed that joint work had to result in legally binding guarantees that prevent Nato expansion to east and deployment of threatening defense missile systems near the Russian borders and that the security of each country is secured only based on exact observance of principle of indivisibility of security. On the other hand, Biden stressed that the US and Russia had a special responsibility for the security of Europe and the world and the US had no intentions of deploying offensive weapons in Ukraine. However, during the contact, the American side threatened Russia of sanctions in which response Putin said it was a serious mistake that could endanger the US-Russian relations.
The reality is in recent months the west has repeatedly accused Russia of preparing a new invasion of Ukraine by deploying tens of thousands of troops on the neighboring country’s borders and the western countries have threatened , in case of aggression, they would impose unprecedented and wide ranging sanctions against Moscow. Karen Donfried, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in response to a question about the probability of the sanctions being on the most radical path, that is cutting Russia off the SWIFT system – a main link in the global financial system, sufficed to say that no options were off the table and that they were ready to talk about Russia’s proposals. She also, about the Russian proposals, emphasized that there were subjects they were interested to work on and thought that they were worth discussing, but there were matters in the documents that the Russians deemed unacceptable.
As a result of the Biden/Putin calls, the Nato officials declared that the Nato-Russia Council might meet again in January for the first time after two years of pause, but Russia has yet to agree and one Nato official has confirmed that Jens Stoltenberg , the secretary general of NATO, has decided to hold a meeting on January 12 to discuss and decide on the proposals made by Russia. In this relation, Maria Zakharova , the Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that They were ready for talks.
The reality is deployment of Russian troops near the Ukraine border has caused consternation in the world community, especially among the Eastern and Central European and Black Sea littoral states like Romania, Poland and the other states. However, Nato has rejected Russia’s proposal and Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said that he intends to discuss these issues at the Nato-Russia Council. On the other hand, Moscow has in many ways constantly pressured the EU and neighboring surrounding countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia that are major EU membership candidates in various issues such as imported energy. Last, that Moscow and Washington , based on an historical experience and in the third millennium have shown that they are capable of finding ways for agreement in hard situations and usually victimize the interests of small countries for their interests and goals. Therefore, an historical experience says that the wise leaders of surrounding countries must act in a way that they won’t be compromised by great powers.
Ali Beman Eghbalizarch, Senior Expert of Europe
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)