The threat of war in Ukraine grows

Released on February 13, 2022 11:46Updated February 14. 2022 at 12:49

The drums resound, but the ax has yet to appear. Apart from France, many Western countries asked their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, considering the Russian army’s preparations for the invasion. Among them: the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, as well as Australia, Japan, Israel, South Korea and Italy.

Washington also ordered the withdrawal of 160 instructors who had trained Ukrainian soldiers for years alongside their German counterparts. “A major Russian operation in Ukraine could begin at any time. That includes the week before the end of the Olympics,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

Invasion scenarios

The White House had prepared a dramatic scenario in the event of a Russian attack on Saturday “probably to begin with aerial bombardments and missile fire”. He also spoke only of a possible “rapid attack” against the capital, Kiev. The latter is located only 90 km from the border with Belarus, where Moscow and Minsk are currently conducting joint maneuvers, Zapad, which is expected to expire next Sunday.

Observers from the OSCE, the organization responsible for promoting American-Russian cooperation on security issues, are leaving Ukraine as a sign of maximum tension.

Russia launched new large-scale naval exercises in the Black Sea on Saturday, effectively banning all navigation of Ukrainian ships. This did not prevent Moscow from condemning the “hysteria” and “provocation” of the United States and starting to evacuate some of its diplomats.

Ukrainian authorities seem caught in a vice. On the one hand, they advised airlines not to fly over the Black Sea on Sunday. On the other hand, they regret the American statements of an imminent invasion, which “caused panic and did not help” the Ukrainians, as their President Volodymyr Zelensky did on Saturday.

“Russia’s deep, all-out war” announcements abound, Volodymyr Zelensky continued. Above all, Kyiv fears the population flocking to the shops, the fall of the national currency, the hrivna, and that an overly alarmist speech will be considered a provocation by Moscow.

Versatile interviews

But it was another tone that came out of the phone call between Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden on Sunday evening. “I believe that your coming to Kiev in the coming days, which is very important for stabilizing the situation, will be a strong signal and will contribute to de-escalation,” he said, according to his Ukrainian counterpart. presidential..

Western and Russian leaders have increased their phone connections since Friday. Negotiations that do not lead to progress. Emmanuel Macron assured him on Monday that he had received a commitment from Vladimir Putin that he would not fuel further escalation, which Moscow responded by deploying new units.

Awaiting Joe Biden’s hypothetical arrival in the Ukrainian capital, the diplomatic highlight of this start of the week is German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Kiev on Monday and Moscow on Tuesday, with Berlin assessing the situation as “critical” and “very”. dangerous.”

Westerners refuse to involve their armies in a Russo-Ukrainian war to respect the fundamental taboo of the Cold War: “no direct confrontation between Russian and Western soldiers”, for fear of an uncontrolled escalation. Therefore, they planned devastating economic retaliation in case of war. Olaf Scholz insisted that these sanctions would be “immediate” if Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Russian army is not yet in combat order

Veteran diplomat Viktor Tatarintsev, Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, had previously replied that Moscow “cares about” Western sanctions: “The more the West puts pressure on Russia, the stronger Russia’s response will be.”

A bluff on behalf of Vladimir Putin cannot be ignored. The Russian military apparatus necessary for an invasion of Ukraine of 120,000 men and equipped with American, British and Turkish weapons has not yet been fully deployed. Moscow has 84 tactical battalions and is apparently counting on reinforcements of 30 others.