How Will Biden Surrender Ukraine to Putin?

Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, trying to make it clear that if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine, the United States will slap terrible, costly sanctions on Moscow.

That’s the plan, anyway. In truth, the Europeans have been begging Biden to surrender Ukraine to Putin because, while the sanctions will damage Russia, they’ll also severely injure Western European economies. The new German chancellor Olaf Scholz has wobbled on supporting tough sanctions on Russia, largely because Germany receives half of its gas and a quarter of oil imports from Russia. Scholz has said categorically that Germany will not give offensive weapons to Ukraine.

It’s an open question how wedded Scholz and his new government will be to enforcing those tough sanctions on Russia.

The NATO alliance, frayed and tattered, is looking for a way out. No one wants to go to war with Russia over Ukraine, including the United States. But the difficult problem of how to surrender to Vladimir Putin without appearing to surrender vexes members of the alliance, despite the brave face put on in Washington.

Sullivan revealed some of the ways NATO will back down.

Fox News:

“We’re prepared, alongside our allies and partners, to negotiate issues of mutual concern when it comes to European security,” Sullivan said. “And yes, that would include reciprocal limitations on the placement of offensive missiles, it would include greater transparency measures, it would include mechanisms to reduce the possibility of mistake or escalation if there are incidents at sea or in the air. We’re prepared to do all of that, just as we have been over the course of the past decades in the Cold War and after.”

French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Moscow last week to meet with Putin to try and “defuse” the crisis. Macron no doubt had the blessing of Joe Biden to proceed.

Sending France to surrender Ukraine may have a certain international symmetry, but the fact is Biden doesn’t want to be too closely associated with what’s coming.

Macron emerged from the meeting with Putin in a hopeful mood. Putin said that the talks were “useful, substantive and business-like,” and said that some of Macron’s ideas could “form a basis for further joint steps.”

Reuters:

In a joint news conference after the talks, Putin said that a number of Macron’s ideas concerning security were realistic and that the two would talk again once Macron had travelled to Kyiv to meet Ukraine’s leadership.

“A number of his ideas, proposals, which are probably still too early to talk about, I think it is quite possible to make the basis of our further joint steps,” he said.

One of the steps Macron said was under discussion was a virtual Russian veto over NATO expansion. Any such veto given to Vladimir Putin would render NATO toothless. Giving Russia, an expansionist power looking to reclaim former vassal states like Ukraine, any say in which of those former vassal states will be prevented from joining the alliance would be an open invitation to Putin to target them.

Putin has let it be known that his goal is to render NATO inoperative as a military force. Giving Russia veto power over NATO membership will come very close to that.

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