Kiev Provocation Unlikely To Draw US Into Confrontation With Russia - Ex-Pentagon Analyst

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 09th December, 2021) A lack of political will and the confused nature of US policy in Europe will likely prevent Kiev from successfully provoking a confrontation between the United States and Russia, although prospects are also dim that the virtual presidential talks will improve relations, former Pentagon analyst Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik.

President Joe Biden during virtual talks on Tuesday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would face consequences, including more sanctions, if Ukraine is invaded. Putin, for his part, told Biden that Moscow's red lines include NATO's further eastern expansion and a military buildup in Ukraine. Putin also complained about Kiev's failure to abide the Minsk agreements.

Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine of going for provocations in Donbas, commenting on reports about Kiev using the US Javelin missile system. The Pentagon on Wednesday said Ukraine should only use the Javelins for self-defensive purposes.

"Ukraine, with or without the help of US factions, could attempt some sort of border incident, but the political will, and the confused and complex nature of US policy in Europe, would likely allow for diffusion rather than escalation of any such provocation," Kwiatkowski, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, said.

On Wednesday, the White House said the United States does not plan to send troops to Ukraine but the US administration is prepared for all contingencies including a robust response to counter a potential Russian offensive if necessary.

Kwiatkowski said she does not see the situation exploding into a crisis for two reasons. First of all, she argued, Russia was unlikely to attempt any full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the first place despite widely expressed fears by US leaders. The 175,000 troops that, according to Washington, are currently amassed on the Russian side were not an invasion force, even on a modern battlefield, Kwiatkowski said.

"Secondly, the United States and a mission-less NATO (are) not in any kind of military position to deliver the kind of defenses that Ukraine would need to repel a Russian invasion force anytime soon, and certainly not this winter," she said.

Germany, the main US ally in continental Europe, remained dependent on supplies of Russian natural gas for its winter heating needs and would not want that supply disrupted by any major crisis, Kwiatkowski explained.

"What will happen is that gas will flow through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline - this is politically and economically necessary for Germany. US policy makers are well aware of this," she said. "Winter arrived last month, and Washington DC environmental sloganeering does not heat Germany. Reality is already trumping Biden's European agenda."

However, Kwiatkowski also cautioned that Biden's two-hour virtual summit with Putin on Tuesday was unlikely to result in any real improvement in relations between the two nuclear superpowers.

Biden, unfortunately, had ignored the opportunity during the call with Putin to genuinely try to improve the tone of the dialogue, Kwiatkowski said. The video conference seemed to be about US demands - with few concessions - like the one Biden had with Chinese President Xi Jinping a few weeks ago

Instead, Biden gave the impression that he was allowing himself to be boxed in by his own hardliners whom he had appointed to run US foreign and national security policy, Kwiatkowski said.

"Biden was accompanied throughout (his) two hour call by the aggressive neoconservatives and Russophobes, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, setting the tone and limiting any progress that might have been made in a more authentic heart-to-heart discussion," she said.

US policy on NATO's eastward expansion was now anachronistic and followed by four years of American demands that NATO countries pay their own share, something no NATO country either welcomed, or did, Kwiatkowski commented.

"It is doubtful the American people would support paying for even more NATO growth, given the financial situation of the US government and their own households. Putin's ...request for limits on NATO expansion are perfectly in line with the well-documented political interests of the American people," she said.

It was clear that Biden and his advisors were out of touch with both US interests, and US capabilities, Kwiatkowski cautioned.

And Biden's warnings, she added, were unlikely to lead to any improvement in Russian policies. The threats Biden delivered were relatively weak and largely recycled, especially regarding disconnection from SWIFT, she said.

In addition, the fact that Congress is being heavily influenced by Ukraine's elite will also prevent much progress going forward.

"Ukraine's kleptocracy has had a grip on US politicians for nearly a decade, since the heady days of the late Senator John McCain's adventurism, and enthusiastic profiteering by the Biden family prior to his election as President," she said.