Ukraine: Westerners increasingly determined against Moscow

Westerners, increasingly unbridled in their support for Ukraine, have made clear their desire for Moscow to bite the dust since this week and appear to be risking escalation and a slide into war.

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“We want Russia to be weakened enough that it can’t do the same things that it did when it invaded Ukraine,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said Monday. Couldn’t be clearer.

Washington then rallied around forty countries, including all of NATO, at Ramstein in Germany on Tuesday to organize large-scale support for Ukraine.

On Wednesday, it was the head of British diplomacy, Liz Truss, who called for the “doubling” of “support” by giving “heavy weapons, tanks, planes” and wanting to “push Russia out of all of Ukraine,” including annexing Crimea since 2014.

One has to “go back to the euro missile crisis in the late 1970s” to find such a level of tension in the explanations, Emilia Robin, a Cold War historian at Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris, told AFP. “We called it the fresh war because it came after a period of detente. This then calmed down with the arrival of [Mikhaïl] Gorbachev [à la tête de l’URSS] and the resumption of negotiations”.

“Unity in strength now prevails,” analyzes for AFP Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier of the Franco-Belgian Institute Thomas More.

“The United States is taking the lead in a new coalition in which, as always, it is providing 70 percent of the funding,” analyst and former military officer Michel Goya said on Twitter. Not in ground soldiers like in Afghanistan or Iraq, but in military terms. “With open warfare as the only frontier,” stresses Mr. Goya.

Westerners have entered “a second phase of the war”, analyzes Florent Parmentier, a teacher at Sciences-Po in Paris. “There is a form of change, we are talking more and more about encouraging Ukraine on the way to victory,” he told AFP news agency after that country had shown its resilience so far.

“Westerners are part of the prospect of a war that will continue,” said Marie Dumoulin, former diplomat and director of the Wider Europe program at the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR), also at AFP, who sees a “continuity”. ‘ in her action.

For Mr. Mongrenier, the change also comes from a development in fears of Russian motives. Europe “seems to have understood that the future of the continent (…) will play out in the Don Basin” in order to counter the Russian geopolitical project to “negotiate a new Yalta” and restore it “the post-Soviet states”.

Faced with this change of pace, Russia is reacting on military ground, hitting lines of communication, warehouses to limit the effectiveness of Western support, but also on semantic ground.

Danger of a “Third World War” for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, threats of a “rapid and lightning-fast” reaction in the event of interference by Vladimir Putin or even statements by the Kremlin that arms deliveries “threaten European security”.

Russia “simply considers that the difference between belligerence and non-intervention becomes smaller as important arms shipments increase,” says Mr. Parmentier.

“If tomorrow Russia feels that NATO is a comrade-in-arms, or that one of the countries is doing a lot in terms of arms shipments, it wouldn’t be surprising to see military strikes closer and closer to the borders to spread that message, we must be at recognize a certain openness in Russian leaders,” he said.

In addition, the Russian shelling on the bridge of the Dniester estuary, through which aid flowed from Romania, belongs to this framework. For French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Russian statements fall under “intimidation to which we must not give in”. France is “not at war with Russia,” he reiterates.

For Mr. Mongrenier, we must not “reverse responsibilities” for a possible conflagration because it is Vladimir Putin’s Russia “engaged in a reverse march” to apply his geopolitical fantasies on the ground that have reignited the war against Ukraine into an even bigger one extent, and which actually threatens all balances in Europe”.

But for former Italian diplomat Marco Carnelos of the MCGeopolicy cabinet, “certain Western leaders, particularly Americans and Britons, are approaching war like sleepwalkers. I think we are in the same situation as in the summer of 1914, with a gradual escalation that ended with the First World War. We have the same dynamic, with a lot of misinterpretations, misperceptions on both sides.”

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