MOSCOW, 04 Jan 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.
The White House published a brief release about the phone call of US President Joe Biden to his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky. Let’s quote it:
“President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine. The leaders expressed support for diplomatic efforts, starting next week with the bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue, at NATO through the NATO-Russia Council, and at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”
President Biden stressed the commitment of the United States, its allies and partners to the principle of “nothing is discussed about you without you”. He reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He also expressed support for confidence-building measures to de-escalate tensions in Donbass and active diplomacy to promote the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in support of the Normandy Format.
This is not the first time Washington has stressed the commitment of the United States, its allies and partners to the principle of “nothing is discussed about you without you”. However, does this convince the Europeans? The answer to this question is not as unambiguous as it may seem. The four years of Donald Trump’s rule have made such a shocking impression on the elites of the European Union that they still cannot recover from it and continue to perceive the initiatives of the new democratic administration with distrust.
I must say, the EU has grounds to think so. After all, the more Biden talks about “resolute support” for Ukraine, the more clearly his enigmatic silence about the fate of Central and Eastern Europe is highlighted. On the one hand, this can be interpreted as a kind of diplomatic device during difficult negotiations with Russia. On the other hand, Europeans are thinking about what if Washington is really ready to agree with Moscow on the establishment of “zones of influence”?
“Vladimir Putin is a shrewd tactician who wants to impose a problem on Europe and the United States that is not really a problem: he wants to change the security architecture on the continent,” writes the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “US President Joe Biden responded to Putin’s staged threats with two telephone conversations. Thus, Putin has already achieved his first goal: the United States agreed to the staging and was forced to submit to Moscow’s logic. European states do not play any role in Putin’s plan, he wants to see them divided. Now begins the second phase of Operation ‘Security Architecture’, in which Putin wants to resurrect the order of the Cold War, including zones of influence, and Biden will have to defend the sovereignty of European states.”
The last phrase, which refers to Biden’s intentions, looks controversial. First of all, it is necessary to determine to what extent Washington sees Europe as whole. At one time, one of the American Secretaries of State stated that the United States proceeds from the fact that there are several different Europes, each of which should be worked with separately. And in this context, he spoke about the “vacuum” in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which “can be filled by the Russians or Chinese”. In other words, in this diagnosis, the postulate of Brussels about the undoubted membership of the CEE countries to the European Union was questioned, they were introduced into the “grey zone”.
The possibility of implementing the scenario of the partition of Central and Eastern Europe between the United States and Russia is beginning to look real. Why the other day an alternative to it was put forward by a well-known French expert-Russianist, professor of history at the Sorbonne University Françoise Thom. In her article “What does the Russian ultimatum to the West mean”, she, among other things, referred to the publication of the RUSSTRAT Institute “Russia’s initiative can help Americans to quietly leave Central and Eastern Europe”. As the professor writes, “deprived of American support, the ‘Russophobic’ countries that crystallise the resistance to Moscow’s hegemony will only have to bow to the inevitable. According to RUSSTRAT, ‘of course, Poland and the Baltic states will be unhappy. But they are likely to be the only ones who will oppose the withdrawal of Americans from Central and Eastern Europe. After all, the rest of the ‘Young Europeans’ are guided by the position of the ‘core’ of the European Union, and they do not have stable anti-Russian complexes’.”
In this regard, Thom suggests responding to Moscow (and Washington?) by unleashing a new cold war, reminding, by the way, that the first one was unleashed by the Europeans. “The French Minister of Defence Florence Parly has recently declared that Western countries must avoid escalation with Russia in order not to provoke a new Cold War. As long as we remain within these conceptual frameworks, Russia will win. It should be remembered that the Cold War began in 1946, when the West stopped caving in to Stalin, after having abandoned the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to him. It was thanks to the Cold War that the countries of Western Europe retained their freedom.”
Her proposal is a reflection of the fears of isolationist Europeans who are ready to abandon the concept of building a united Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, so long as the CEE region continues to remain a monopoly of the European Union. However, it is possible that some countries of Central and Eastern Europe will prefer the restriction of their sovereignty by the United States and Russia, since in any case it will be less significant than the way they are deprived of the rights and powers of a sovereign state by unelected officials in Brussels.