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Russo-Ukraine War - 2022 January

US and Russian officials held security talks on January 10 amid mounting tensions over Ukraine. Russia and NATO would hold separate talks on January 12, while Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States and its European allies, would meet on January 13.

Anatol Lieven wrote 08 January 2022 "Demands from Kiev and Brussels to be involved in the talks themselves should however be firmly rejected by Washington. Due to its deep internal divisions, the Ukrainian political establishment is incapable of agreeing on any reasonable position vis a vis Russia; while the EU is incapable of agreeing on anything at all when it comes to external policy. Involving them in the negotiations will simply be a recipe for making the entire process hostage to elements opposed to any settlement at all: Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and historically embittered Swedes, Poles and Balts."

“For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never ever becomes a member of NATO,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said, and Moscow is insisting that the institution amend its policies to reflect this reality. “We are fed up with loose talk, half-promises, misinterpretations of what happened in different negotiations behind closed doors,” he said.

“It’s clear that we’ve offered him two paths forward,” Blinken said, speaking of Putin. “One is through diplomacy and dialogue; the other is through deterrence and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression against Ukraine. And we’re about to test the proposition of which path President Putin wants to take this week.”

Scott Ritter suggested "A strategic air campaign designed to nullify specific aspects of a nations’ capability, whether it be economic, political, military, or all the above, coupled with a focused ground campaign designed to destroy an enemy’s army as opposed to occupy its territory, is the likely course of action. ... the Ukrainian military is neither equipped nor trained to engage in large-scale ground combat. It would be destroyed piecemeal, and the Russians would more than likely spend more time processing Ukrainian prisoners of war than killing Ukrainian defenders. For any Russian military campaign against Ukraine to be effective in a larger conflict with NATO, however, two things must occur—Ukraine must cease to exist as a modern nation state, and the defeat of the Ukrainian military must be massively one-sided and quick. ... Russia can survive being blocked from SWIFT transactions longer than Europe can survive without Russian energy.... Russia will guarantee that the Ukrainian treatment will be applied to the Baltics, Poland, and even Finland, should it be foolish enough to pursue NATO membership.... Russia does not need to occupy the territory of NATO for any lengthy period — just enough to destroy whatever military power has been accumulated by NATO near its borders. And — here’s the kicker — short of employing nuclear weapons, there’s nothing NATO can do to prevent this outcome." These observations ignore NATO airpower.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman led the U.S. delegation’s participation in an extraordinary session of the U.S.-Russia bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue (SSD) 10 January 2022. "One country cannot change the borders of another by force, or dictate the terms of another country’s foreign policy, or forbid another country from choosing its own alliances. These are basic tenets of the international system, and they are principles that Russia has previously agreed to many times over the years."

On 19 January 2022, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov underscored that a moratorium on NATO expansion for a limited time span would be unacceptable for Russia. He said, “No, this scenario is unacceptable. We need legally binding guarantees of NATO’s non-expansion in a form of treaties: a bilateral agreement with the US and a multilateral agreement with NATO.” Ryabkov explained why Moscow needs “bulletproof, 100-percent guarantees of NATO’s non-expansion.” He said, “We’ve experienced it many times in the past, when such formulas, lucrative on the outside, were quickly forgotten, turned inside out and transformed into their opposite… We cannot be satisfied with yet another trick.”

In Berlin, Ministry of Economy disclosed that as of January 11, Germany only has “a theoretical working gas availability of 17.7 days.” Russian gas supplies had stopped since December 21 and Gazprom has not booked any capacity to pump gas to Europe through the Yamal pipeline through February. Overall, European storage facilities were 49.33% full as of January 12.

“As has been repeatedly emphasized from the Russian side, the issue is urgent. We are not ready to wait endlessly, and we are not willing to immerse ourselves in the usual diplomatic, bureaucratic nonsense about which formats are optimal for this. We need a direct and clear answer, and in writing,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov explained 19 January 2022. “What we need, above all else, is a legal guarantee of NATO’s non-expansion… and a reliable solution to the issue of non-deployment of strike weapons along our borders.” Ryabkov rejected a suggestion that Moscow could agree to a temporary moratorium on NATO expansion, such as for 10 or 20 years.

Maatthew Karnitschnig wrote 20 January 2022 : "Germany’s allies hoped Olaf Scholz’s coalition, which includes the Russia-critical Greens, would back away from the accommodative policies toward Moscow that marked the Angela Merkel era. Recent days have shown such optimism to be misplaced.... Under the influence of a potent cocktail of energy and commercial interests, and a political culture laced with good old-fashioned anti-Americanism, Germany has strayed from the Western fold."

On 23 January 2022 the US told the families of its diplomats in Kyiv to leave Ukraine amid concerns about a potential Russian invasion. Germany said it would also help its citizens leave if they wish. US officials advised against traveling to Ukraine due to "increased threats of Russian military action" and COVID-19. The US State Department said that there were reports Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine.

On 24 January 2022 the UK said that it is also withdrawing some embassy staff and their relatives from Ukraine due to the "growing threat from Russia." Australia quickly followed suit, with Canberra telling the country's citizens to "leave now" and withdrawing family members.

Russia had made significant diplomatic gains, according to Thomas Kunze, head of the Moscow Office at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the German political foundation associated with the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). "They have achieved that they are negotiating with the Americans on an equal footing," he told DW. "They have achieved that the NATO-Russia Council, which NATO had suspended, is working again. And the Russians have achieved that spheres of influence are being talked about."

On 24 January 2022, the European Council approved conclusions in which it condemned Russia’s continued aggressive actions and threats against Ukraine, and called on Russia to de-escalate, to abide by international law and to engage constructively in dialogue through the established international mechanisms. The Council reaffirmed the Union’s full commitment to the core principles on which European security is built, enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter and the founding documents of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, including the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris. These core principles include, in particular, the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States, the inviolability of frontiers, refraining from the threat or use of force, and the freedom of States to choose or change their own security arrangements. The Council stated that those principles are neither negotiable nor subject to revision or re-interpretation and that their violation by Russia is an obstacle to a common and indivisible security space in Europe and threatens peace and stability on the European continent. Recalling the European Council conclusions of 16 December 2021, the Council reiterated that any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe costs, including a wide array of sectoral and individual restrictive measures that would be adopted in coordination with partners.

Despite increased fears over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was no indication that Moscow was planning to launch an offensive in the near future, the defense minister in Kiev said on 24 January 2022. Speaking to Ukrainian TV channel ICTV, owned by billionaire businessman Victor Pinchuk, Aleksey Reznikov dismissed the possibility of an impending Russian offensive. “As of today, the Russian Armed Forces have not formed a strike force that would suggest that they will go on an offensive tomorrow,” he told the news channel, also rejecting suggestions that Moscow will invade on February 20, the day the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics end, calling the chances “not high.”

Vladimir Putin had an extensive telephone conversation with President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron on 28 January 2022. Vladimir Putin made it clear that the US and NATO responses did not address Russia’s fundamental concerns such as stopping NATO expansion, not deploying assault weapons near Russia’s borders, or rolling NATO’s military capacity and infrastructure in Europe back to where they were in 1997 when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.

France has announced plans to send hundreds of troops to Romania a day after the United States said it would soon move a small number of U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries as fears continue to mount that a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine's borders could be a prelude to an invasion. French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on January 29 that Paris plans to send "several hundred men" to Romania as part of a "defensive alliance." She also said she had visited Romania on January 27 to discuss the issue.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on January 28 that he would move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and the NATO countries "in the near term." He did not specify where the troops would be sent from or which country they would be sent to. The United States already had tens of thousands of troops stationed across Western Europe. The Pentagon earlier in the week placed about 8,500 U.S. troops on standby for possible deployment to Europe amid Moscow's military buildup.

Units that belong to Russia’s Western military district are returning to their bases after “concluding routine combat readiness tests” near Ukrainian border, Russian district commander Alexander Zhuravlyov told Russian news agency Interfax on 29 January 2022. Zhuravlyov said that forces under his command “met all of their objectives” and will continue training on proving grounds. “We have a whole range of tasks ahead, including joint tactical exercises with air force and anti-air defenses,” he said.

According to him, engineering, communication and biochemical hazard brigades are returning to their bases, along with air force detachments that participated in the “exercises” next to Ukraine’s border. The district’s troops will fully restock and resupply. These “routine” combat readiness tests of the Western and Southern military districts were announced on Jan. 25, according to Interfax, amidst rising tensions in Russia-NATO relations.

Stephen Blank wrote 28 January 2022 : " the intelligence services and Russian military, are systematically incentivized to promote the worst possible threat scenarios and assessments of the West’s inborn hostility yet simultaneous debility. This serves to inflame the situation to the greatest possible degree.... Since empire and autocracy are inextricably joined together in Russian history, failure to assure the continuity of empire imperils the perpetuation of autocracy. For Putin’s system to survive, Russia must constantly be in a state of conflict with the West. Inasmuch as Ukraine is the keystone in the arch of European security and the key to Putin’s dreams of renewed empire, it remains at the epicenter of Russia’s war on the West. This is the basic reality at the core of today’s crisis."

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Page last modified: 05-03-2022 18:21:10 ZULU