Thank God we have a leader as experienced as U.S. President Joe Biden at the helm of the Western world. He served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years, and he was a longtime member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In 1997, he became the ranking minority member and chaired the committee in all the related terms when Democrats were in control of the Senate, participating in all of the international affairs the U.S. played a role in. Since the U.S. poked its proverbial nose in almost every international event, Biden experienced them all.
Therefore, when he pushes two of his most prominent adversaries, Russia and China, to strongly embrace each other, the free Western world should not be worried. Biden knows what he is doing. He is putting his vast experience into the service of the entire free world, NATO, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), AUKUS (a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and more.
Thanks to this experienced man, France and Germany are now siding with Russia, and Russia with China. This won't help the U.S. or Russia from the corner that they have painted themselves into, but that is not the issue here. The matter is how both countries are going to do it without losing face.
Moreover, Biden was also a longtime member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee; he even chaired it from 1987 to 1995 and served as ranking minority leader for 13 years. Perhaps this legal expertise could help him to find a way out from that corner while keeping NATO’s fundamental right of expansion but not goading Ukraine and Georgia to be a member. The same is also valid for Russian President Vladimir Putin. His dilemma appears to be how to pull off not giving the impression it is turning tail while not invading Ukraine.
For instance, in 1999, during the Kosovo War, Biden suggested that the U.S. could bomb Serbia and Montenegro but make it look like NATO did it. He and his fellow Democrats at the White House had not considered the fact that such an operation would be out of NATO’s jurisdiction because neither country involved was a NATO member. But in those days, who would be bothered? NATO had just disintegrated the Soviet Union; everybody around the Atlantic was flying high with the euphoria of victory. However, at least one person – one of three deputies of the Russian prime minister, who soon would be appointed as acting prime minister by Russian President Boris Yeltsin – had been noting that NATO was no longer reliable about its promise of no action out of its area. It had lied once when it had proposed to then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO wouldn’t move “1 inch” to the east if the USSR would agree to German reunification; they invited former Eastern Bloc states Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to join in 1999. NATO leaders were busy assuring Russia that it was a defensive pact and no need to worry unless they attack a NATO country. But 10 days later, U.S. President Bill Clinton began bombing Serbia, claiming that it was for the security of European NATO members; it was the second breach of trust in the eyes of Russia’s new leadership, which was trying to restore the dignity and the security of the country. Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated last week that it was “difficult” to see NATO as a defensive alliance in light of its interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya. Also, Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin continues to be concerned about past deceptions by the West, and claimed, “Hypothetically, in the future, foreseeable or far-off, we could see Ukraine as a NATO member attacking us.”
When Russia announced its annexation of Crimea in 2014, a journalist had asked Putin if this action would start deterioration of American-Russian relations, and Putin answered, “It already started in Yugoslavia.”
For the majority of Russian people, Yugoslavia was a close ally, and no matter how important it was to stop the crime against humanity committed by Serbian terrorists in Bosnia-Herzegovina, those who look back to the powerful Soviet Union see NATO as an enemy.
Now this “enemy” says it would accept any willing country as a member because it says in its charter that membership is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of this treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.” This is the open-door principle NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO cannot abandon. Yet Russian leaders claim that while, according to the 1999 Charter of the OSCE, saying that nations will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states, it practically gives all members a veto power on their actions if they try to increase their security by joining NATO.
On one hand, we have a red line for NATO about its right to accept Ukraine and Georgia as members, and on the other hand, we have another red line for Moscow about their membership in NATO. Both cannot turn back from those red lines because the world might consider it running scared. So, like all noble statespeople, both sides are piling up arms and soldiers along the borders.
However, more arms and soldiers simply make discussions harder to start and dialogues impossible to succeed. All you need is to negotiate to find a way to lessen the danger of using force. Perhaps, the definition of “both sides” is not right here; perhaps only Ukraine and Russia should be considered the legitimate sides of the contention here. Only Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin should be part of this dialogue. What Kyiv considers Russia’s aggression against Ukraine might be solved in a new election process, or might not. Zelenskyy expressed willingness in his talks last week with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he said he would attend any meeting with Putin and Erdoğan if one is arranged. Putin will probably be visiting Turkey after his China visit. Donbass is the key in talks, not a bargaining chip as many authors in the Western media claim it to be.
There are only two people who can solve the Donbass issue: Zelenskyy and Putin. No one should be doing anything that could prevent their dialogue from succeeding. As Erdoğan said on his way back from Ukraine last week, instead of preventing the crisis from deepening, NATO is pouring fuel on the fire.