During Tuesday’s two-hour phone call with President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn’t intimidated by Biden’s warning of "severe consequences" if Russia invades Ukraine.
Putin also was not worried when Biden said the U.S. is prepared to do “things we did not do in 2014,” referring to the weak reaction by the Obama/Biden administration to the last Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Putin must have been ecstatic, however, when he heard Biden’s huge concession in response to the buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border.
Yesterday, Biden said that he plans to announce talks with Russia "to discuss the future of Russia’s concerns relative to NATO writ large." These talks, according to Biden, will discuss "whether or not we can work out any accommodation as it relates to bringing down the temperature along the eastern front."
The talks, according to Biden, will include “at least four” major NATO allies.
It is hard to overstate the recklessness of Biden’s concession to Putin.
First, we all know why Putin has "concerns" about NATO — he doesn’t want it to exist since its purpose is to counter Russian expansion in Europe.
We don’t need a conference to determine this. However, holding such a discussion is an opportunity for Russia to weaken NATO’s mandate and resolve.
According to the Financial Times, an East European senior official was so alarmed at the idea of a conference to discuss Putin’s grievances with NATO that he said "under no circumstances should the debate on guarantees in the context of European security be allowed to unfold."
He added that any talk of compromise with Moscow "must be immediately cut at the root" and said this is the view of at least a half dozen EU members.
Second, since Putin raised the "temperature" with Ukraine, a conference to work out "accommodations" with Russia to lower the temperature likely will be a "concession-fest" to appease Putin. Most NATO states realize this.
And third, what was Biden thinking when he offered Putin a meeting with the U.S. and four other NATO states without consulting with NATO in advance? Any NATO meeting with Russia — especially one to discuss "Russia’s concerns relative to NATO writ large" — obviously must be discussed and approved by its entire 30-state NATO membership.
Remember how mad NATO states were at President Trump for demanding they pay more for Europe’s collective defense and questioning the resolve of NATO members to stand up to Russia?
What do they have to say now after Biden’s offer to discuss adjusting NATO’s European security guarantees with Putin?
I don’t know if Putin ever actually planned to invade Ukraine. Given how much stronger Ukraine’s military is now compared with 2014 and the probable lack of the element of surprise, a major Russian invasion of the country would be bloody and expensive.
If Russia did attack, it might be a limited incursion to shore-up break-away Russian-controlled provinces in eastern Ukraine. Putin probably would assume that since he got away with this during the Obama/Biden administration, he would do so again.
This writer believes it's very likely the Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border is a ruse to pressure the United States and Europe for concessions and divide NATO.
If this is the case, Russia’s wily president must be extremely pleased with his recent phone call with President Biden and its aftermath.
Fred Fleitz is President of the Center for Security Policy and a Newsmax TV Contributor. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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