Russia defence ukraine
This photo taken from video distributed by Russian Defence Ministry Press Service shows Russian military vehicles move during drills in Crimea last year (File) Image Credit: AP

War clouds are gathering over Ukraine and the situation is increasingly appearing ominous. And US President Joe Biden’s statement has added a new sense of urgency. He has predicted Russia will invade Ukraine once again, saying that he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘will move in’. According to Biden, Putin does not want a ‘full-blown war’ but instead wants to test America’s and Nato’s resolve.

These moves come as senior American and European diplomats are meeting in Berlin on Thursday to present a united front against Moscow, which has massed 100,000 troops near Ukraine.

The situation puts the US, the world’s foremost military and industrial power, in a particular conundrum. A military confrontation with Russia would be uncomfortably equal, given Moscow’s superpower-level armed might. In the case of Ukraine, America has one advantage, though: It is not bound by any treaty to intervene, as Ukraine is not a Nato member. Hence, almost certainly, America will not get directly involved militarily. Frankly, any such confrontation between the Big Powers would mean the end of the World Order as we know it.

However, not doing anything will also make the US look weak. Washington may adopt options such as extreme sanctions against Russian officials, and steps such as supporting Ukrainian resistance fighters after a potential invasion.

Presenting a unified front

Right now, the American response seems to be centred on presenting a unified front along with its jittery Nato allies in Europe to confront Russia.

All this comes as the Kremlin has denied any plans to invade Ukraine and has instead accused the Nato alliance of threatening Russian security with its continued expansion eastward. From the Russian perspective, the West has been threatening Russia’s security and national interests since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Expansion has reached Russian borders and a newly-assertive Moscow seems determined to draw a red line — any move to admit Ukraine into Nato Russia is also adamantly opposed to the West basing missiles there. Russia continues to feel that Western alliance simply doesn’t take its national interest into consideration.

So where do we go from here? The stakes are so high that top level diplomacy is the only way out. Both sides must be alive to the fact that such tense standoffs have a way of getting out of control.