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What exactly could the United States do to aid Ukraine if Russia invades

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-24

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The first shipment of the United States’ $200 million security support package for Ukraine has arrived in Kiev as tensions grow over the prospect of Moscow invading its neighbour with tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered at the border.

High-level talks took place beteen US and Russian ministers last week while President Joe Biden ramped up his rhetoric to urge Russia’s Vladimir Putin not to attack Ukraine.

Mr Biden initially said last week: “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do, etcetera,” before he later clarified that “if any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” which would be met with “severe economic response”.

At the same time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Geneva . Similarly, Bloomberg News reported the United States might have family members of diplomats working in the Ukrainian embassy leave.

Mr Blinken said in Geneva that there might be a summit between Mr Biden and Mr Putin.

“If it proves useful and productive for the two presidents to meet, to talk, to engage, to try to carry things forward, I think we're fully prepared to do that,” he told reporters last week.

Yet the talks between Mr Blinken and his Russian counterpart ultimately failed to to alleviate tensions.

Moscow has moved troops and materiel into neighbouring Belarus for military drills, while Nato on Monday said it was sending additional ships and fighter jets to its deployments in eastern Europe. The US embassy in Ukraine has requested the evacuation of all non-essential staff and their families.

Mr Biden and other military leaders have not been specific on what their response would be other than just saying there would be a “severe economic response”.

In addition to the military aid, Washington is considering sending thousands of US soldiers to Nato allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, according to media reports.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the House to pass legislation that would authorise “robust sanctions” against Russian government officials as well as financial institutions and transactions.

Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defence policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said that the United States has a number of options ranging from diplomatic to military to economic punishment.

The United States could, for example send military advisers and more weapons to Ukraine or use diplomatic efforts, such as moving to expel Russia from the Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for violating the organization’s charters. Similarly, the United States could bring motions against Russia in the United Nations Security Council.

Ms Schake said the United States could also station Nato troops on Russia’s border, support claims against Russia’s territories in the far east region or reveal what it knows about Mr Putin’s personal wealth.

“Unclear whether it will prevent a Russian attack on Ukraine, but it will at least drive up the price,” she told The Independent . “It’ll be humiliating for Russia to back off deploying more than 100K troops and making outrageous demands for Western concessions.”

Ms Schake said that it is not surprising that Russia would test American resolve after the exit from Afghanistan led to the nation falling to the Taliban. But at the same time, she said that so far, the US and Nato allies have done a good job of holding together and “refusing to be a party to Russia’s schemes to recreate a sphere of influence”.

Similarly, the bill being deliberated in the House would increase foreign military financing as well as International Military Education and Training (IMET) financing for Ukraine. The bill would also use “soft” power such as funding for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

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