Author: Althea, Content writer, Headline Diplomat
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, beginning on February 24, 2022, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, escalated the Russo-Ukrainian War. It’s a conflict that has been smoldering since 2014, but escalation has been somehow avoided by the former administrations of the world superpower, the United States.
Barely, a year after the new administration came in, diplomatic efforts with U.S. and NATO collapsed, and Russian troops have ever since been bombarding the former Soviet republic nation. But what role has the Joe Biden administration of the United States played in the run-up to the invasion and the current state of things in Ukraine?
U.S. knew early enough
First off, the strategists in the White House expected a Russian invasion early on, even before January.
“Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine,” said a U.S. official who requested anonymity. “The Russian military plans to begin these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February,” the official said.
Even President Joe Biden said in mid-January: “He [Putin] has to do something.” According to reports by the Business Insider, He continued, “Do I think he’ll test the West? Test the United States and NATO as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will.”
And below are parts of the series of questions thrown forward to President Putin at a press briefing in the White House.
“Your top foreign policy advisors have warned that Russia is now ready to attack Ukraine. But there’s still little unity among European allies about what a package of sanctions against Moscow would look like. If the U.S. and NATO aren’t willing to put troops on the line to defend Ukraine and American allies can’t agree on a sanctions package, hasn’t the U.S. and the West lost nearly all of its leverage over Vladimir Putin?”
But Putin’s response was, “I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades.”
Months later, the Biden government could only conduct diplomatic negotiations and provided a tough package of sanctions in consultation with European countries.
The punitive economic measures were phased in to maintain leverage during the escalation. In addition, the U.S. government orchestrated an unprecedented information campaign.
Some situations were, however, confusing. For example, weeks before the invasion, President Biden named a supposedly concrete date for the attack by Russian troops. Biden was certain that Wednesday, February 16, would be the day as he informed allies.
“We are spreading Russia’s plans loudly and repeatedly – not because we want a conflict, but because we are doing everything in our power to take away any possible justification for Russia to invade Ukraine.”
But nothing happened!
Weapons shipments came too late
It can be said that the crisis strategy of the USA unfortunately failed. And in Washington, there are increasingly serious voices, outside of party bickerings such as that of John Herbst of the Atlantic Council, or Alexander Vindman, a Security Council member from the Trump administration, pointing to cardinal errors.
These critics say it was a mistake to rule out from the outset that the U.S. would send troops to Ukraine. The option should have been left on the table, as in the case of Taiwan, they said.
Cardinal error number two: Sending effective weapon systems to Ukraine came too late. And third, really painful economic sanctions should have been put in place earlier, not after the invasion.
Zelenskyy: “We don’t need scaremongering”
While E.U. politicians tried, again and again, to mediate in Moscow and Kyiv, U.S. citizens were asked to leave Ukraine at an early stage.
At the end of January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy even warned the United States against too much “scaremongering”.
After a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden, he accused the White House of portraying the threat as greater than it really was: Even “respectable leaders of states” are saying “tomorrow there will be war,” said Zelenskyy, as reported by the BBC. He said the “destabilization of the situation inside the country” was the biggest threat to Ukraine.
Biden’s rejected talk plans with Putin
When “the door of the conversation” was supposed to remain open, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a recently agreed talk plan with his Russian counterpart Lavrov.
According to the U.S. President’s Office, the planned meeting between Biden and Vladimir Putin was also put on hold because of the escalation in Ukraine. For a corresponding summit, the conflict would first have to be de-escalated, according to the White House.
In February, Biden was ready to meet with Putin – but only as long as no Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border.
“We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war,” said press secretary Jen Psaki.
Then he said at the time, “Currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.”
The initiative for the meeting came from French President Emmanuel Macron, who had called Putin twice, and Biden once. Later on, Putin announced that he would send Russian troops to eastern Ukraine.
Would Putin have invaded if Trump was president?
As Russian bombs fell on the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv, Donald Trump spoke about the crisis. During an exchange with the former president of the United States, Fox News host Laura Ingraham claimed that Russia decided to attack Ukraine because of the “weakness of the American government.” “I think you’re right!” replied the former head of state.
“He [Vladimir Putin] was going to be satisfied with a peace, and now he sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity of this administration, and, as an American, I’m angry about it, and I’m saddened by it. And it all happened because of a rigged election. This would have never happened,” he said, as quoted by The Independent.
“China is threatening Taiwan. Russia is decimating Ukraine. Iran is on the cusp of a nuclear bomb,” Trump said. Then he slammed Biden for the exit from Afghanistan even though the public wanted a withdrawal.
“Joe Biden has turned calm into chaos, competence into incompetence, stability into anarchy, and security into catastrophe. The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. It is an outrage and catastrophe that should never have been allowed to occur. It never would have occurred,” Trump said.
What motive is the U.S. pursuing?
Nina Khrushcheva, professor of international politics at the New School in New York, put forward an interesting thesis. Although she leaves no doubt that from her point of view, “Putin’s Russia is an evil empire,” she still sees the USA as the driver of the conflict.
“It looks like a targeted U.S. campaign to me,” said the great-granddaughter of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The developments of the past few weeks reminded her “in a frightening way of the prelude to the Iraq war.” At that time, the United States led the world to believe Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction – which turned out to be false. “Now the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is raised.”
Khrushcheva is convinced that Putin did not actually plan a war. Although he triggered the conflict with Ukraine by annexing Crimea in 2014, the USA is responsible for the current escalation of the crisis.
“They observed troop movements and decided to sound the alarm.” In order to polish his battered image after withdrawing from Afghanistan, U.S. President Joe Biden is now dedicating himself to protecting Ukraine.
“A president who wages war stays in power. American withdrawal from Afghanistan hurt Joe Biden,” she said to Stern, a German news outlet. “To polish your image again, you need a new protégé. Ukraine is the perfect candidate. It is in the middle of Europe, but far enough away from your own front door.”
“Why does it look like America is more concerned about Europe’s security than Europe?” the moderator of an interview on U.S. broadcaster NBC asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken on January 23.
“Oh, I don’t think that’s the case,” Blinken replied, saying they were already deeply affected. But he said the rest of the world would also be affected, saying the basis of international relations that have maintained peace and security since the last world war is under threat.
“I think there’s – in my own engagements with my European counterparts that have been intensive and extensive over the last couple of months. I think there is a deep-seated concern across the board.
“And by the way, this is a concern that should extend not only to Europe and the United States but, in a sense, it should concern the entire world because what’s at stake here is not simply the relationship between Ukraine and Russia or even between Europe and Russia or the United States and Russia.
“What’s at stake here… are very basic principles of international relations that have kept peace and security since the last world wars and the cold war. The idea that one nation can’t simply change the borders of another nation by force; that it can’t dictate to that country its choices, with whom it will associate.
“And if you let that go unchecked, that opens Pandora’s box that countries far away from Europe will take into account.”
The United States has long played a leading role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. For weeks, the world superpower stoked fears with warnings – the Ukrainian president accused them of this.
There had been the threat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine long before Biden emerged. And the Ukrainian invasion by Russia resulted from the United States-Russia diplomatic failure and the inability to act faster when it had the time to act much differently before the attack.
For the Biden government, which has worked intensively for de-escalation, this criticism must taste bitter, but the fact is that the U.S. and the West have failed in deterring Russian aggression, let alone making it even stronger!