European countries have tried to curb fear of war in the Ukraine conflict, but the United States has helped to escalate it, lieutenant colonel Tormod Heier, professor at the Norwegian Defense College, believes.
“I think it is startling that American intelligence is helping to stir up a fear of war, and the question is which American interests are the basis for this approach,” Heier told NTB.
Diplomacy has recently been working in high gear across countries and continents in an attempt to keep the dialogue warm between Russia and the West. While European leaders have resorted to cautious optimism in an attempt to lower tensions, the tone has been far more pessimistic from across the Atlantic.
The contrast is very visible and startling, Heier thinks. He believes that US rhetoric contributes to general concern in Europe that the continent is now facing a war.
“It will be more difficult to find compromises that allow all parties to emerge from the crisis with honor intact. It will be more difficult for the more pragmatic forces to win, the forces that try to see the matter from two sides,” he said.
Disagreement about optimism
French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Moscow last week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two were depicted sitting on opposite sides of a long table, and many experts pointed out the symbolism of the distance between West and East in the increasingly tense Ukraine conflict.
However, Macron expressed optimism after the meeting. This was reciprocated by Putin, who praised Macron’s diplomatic capabilities. Several possible solutions were discussed, according to the Russian president.
US President Joe Biden spoke with Putin on the phone a few days later. After the meeting, the Pentagon stated that there was no reason for optimism and that there were no signs that things were moving in the right direction.
Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been very critical of the United States’ constant warnings. Zelenskyj believes the US claim that Russia can invade the country at any time is of little help and only creates panic.
The meetings have opened more doors
But the diplomatic meetings have opened more doors than they have closed, senior researcher Flemming Splidsboel at the Danish Institute for International Studies (Diis) believes.
“It is difficult to maintain optimism when you see the military development that has taken place. But I think there are small signals from these press conferences, also from the Russian side,” Splidsboel told the Danish news agency Ritzau.
On Tuesday, it was Germany’s turn to talk to Putin. Olaf Scholz was seated at the same, long table, apparently for infection control reasons. This meeting was also followed by optimistic statements. Putin pointed out that Russia does not want to go to war and that it wants to follow the path of negotiations.
The purpose of the many diplomatic meetings is partly to buy more time, as well as to investigate the possibility of one or more solutions, according to Splidsboel.
Rhetoric needs to be curbed
Norway has taken the same diplomatic approach as most other European countries, and Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt (AP) does not want Norway to help escalate the situation.
“I do not want to contribute with any rhetoric in the current situation. I believe this is a responsibility we have as a member of NATO, which wants to prevent the conflict from escalating,” she told NTB.
“In the future, it will be very important to avoid misunderstandings,” she emphasized.
“The most important thing we can do is to curb the rhetoric, and that we can keep this on the diplomatic track,” said Huitfeldt, who also stated on Tuesday that a Russian attack on Ukraine could be imminent.
Putin has painted himself into a corner
Lieutenant Colonel Heier believes that the ideal situation for Putin would be that it ends with a meeting at the top where papers are signed and that it does not all end up in the sand with only non-committal talks.
Heier points out that both Macron and Scholz have indicated openness to entering into a new European security order.
“Putin has painted himself into a corner that is difficult to get out of. With that, the use of force may appear to be the least evil. It is important for the United States to ensure that Putin does not lose face by gaining something,” Heier believes.
He does not believe that the Ukraine conflict will result in war because he believes that the costs will outweigh the gains that Putin has made.
“What Putin wants is to find a solution where he can tell his own people that ‘we gained support for increased transparency and predictability, and we managed to keep the United States a little further away from our own borders,'” Heier said.
Source : © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews
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