Live from the “Situation Room”, the American president tried to find the path to de-escalation with Vladimir Poutine, sitting in front of a long table, in his residence in Sochi, on the Black Sea. Will this virtual summit pave the way for a de-escalation in the Ukrainian dossier and a return to diplomacy? The two-hour interview between the two men was ” useful “, according to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “Straightforward and professional”, according to the Kremlin, but the crisis is not resolved.
→ ANALYSIS. Ukraine at the heart of the Biden-Putin exchange
Joe Biden threatened Vladimir Putin with “Strong penalties” economic if it invaded Ukraine. For his part, the Russian president has blamed the rising tensions on Western countries and Ukraine and has given no indication of his intentions. Unsurprisingly, he reiterated his request to “Secure legal guarantees” on a freeze on NATO expansion.
The two presidents instructed their teams to continue the dialogue. Those “Substantial consultations”, in the words of the Kremlin, would relate in particular to the relaunching of the implementation of the Minsk agreements within the framework of the “Normandy format” (France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine). Jake Sullivan raised the possibility of a “Mechanism” to address the “Broader policy issues” with Russia. Joe Biden did not “Promises or concessions”, underlined the national security adviser.
Limited options for Biden
In this high-risk diplomacy, Joe Biden’s options are limited – a direct American military engagement in Ukraine is excluded – but American credibility is at stake. neighbor, the United States has therefore raised the threat of “Severe economic consequences” in case of passage to the act. The White House would respond favorably to a demand for an increased US military presence in Eastern Europe and increase its military support for Ukraine.
Above all, Washington would inflict harsher economic sanctions on Moscow. The United States discussed with Germany a shutdown of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipelinein the event of an invasion of Ukraine,Jake Sullivan confirmed. “If Vladimir Putin wants the future Nord Stream 2 to carry gas, he let go, he may not take the risk of invading Ukraine. “
In the wake of his exchange with Putin, Joe Biden called French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Ministers Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He will meet, Thursday, December 9, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
No change in the field
On the ground, Russia gives no indication of wanting to give up the reinforcement of its military deployment on the Ukrainian border. In an intervention before a forum organized, Tuesday, December 7, by the Wall Street Journal, CIA Director William Burns, former US Ambassador to Russia, estimated that Vladimir Putin could conclude in the coming months that the time has come to act. «He sees himself in a relative position of strength compared to what the Russian economy was a few years ago., he stressed, with high energy prices and European allies distracted by the change of government in Germany and preparations for the presidential election in France. “
→ READ. War murmurs in eastern Ukraine
“Ukraine could be the defining crisis of 2022, adds former UN diplomat Jean-Marie Guéhenno. Russia has many reasons not to attack Ukraine, but the United States cannot give it what it wants. “