“Moscow is already preparing an excuse to attack Ukraine,” multiple reports say

Moscow, Russia – Three rounds of talks on Ukraine’s fate this week, led by Russia, the United States, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), ended more or less at a dead end, according to all parties involved.

Does that mean that the war in Ukraine is more certain now? The Guardian offers possible answers to other important questions in its analysis.

Has anything been achieved through the talks?

Not much. The gap between what America and its allies were willing to discuss – reciprocal restrictions on missiles and military exercises and other confidence-building measures – and what Moscow demanded – a guarantee that Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc countries will never join NATO – it remained as big as it was until this week. But at least the possibility of finding a common language was tested, and diplomacy was given a chance.

Photo: Olivier Hoslet / Tanjug / AP

Is it clearer what Russia wants?

Yes. It is now clear that Russia has not used the accumulation of troops and NATO demands as a bluff to make a profit on other issues. At three meetings this week, Russia was given a chance to be satisfied with a compromise solution, but Moscow did not accept that. There is no longer any doubt that Vladimir Putin is looking for anything less than a transformation of European security, with a significantly reduced NATO presence along its borders.

Will there be new talks?

Russian officials on Thursday did not sound as if there were many appetites in Moscow for further discussion. The Poles suggested intensifying the dialogue on security issues within the OSCE, but the Russians kept saying that they wanted a quick solution, and not a continuous process of presenting complaints. Ukraine proposed a summit to resolve the crisis, this time with Kiev at the table, but there was no response from Moscow.

Photo: Olivier Hoslet / Tanjug / AP

What’s next?

Diplomats are returning to their capitals to discuss the next steps. All eyes will be on Moscow and the movement of Russian troops in the region around Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a press conference on Friday, at which he said that Moscow was running out of patience. That should give a clearer picture of Putin’s mood. The Russians demanded that the United States provide written comments on draft agreements announced by Moscow in December, which include proposed restrictions on NATO. It is not yet clear whether Washington will provide those written answers summarizing its objections.

Has the chance of war increased or decreased after the talks?

Increased, according to the “Guardian”. The probability that Putin used pressure on Ukraine as a lever to get something else has always been small. It is now practically non-existent. It is also clearer that America and its allies are not ready to reject a possible membership of Ukraine in NATO, but they admit that it is unlikely in the foreseeable future. After this week, it is known that Putin is ready to go to the very edge of the war. The question now is whether to cross it.


“An excuse to attack”

Meanwhile, US intelligence officials have learned that Russia is trying to create an excuse for its troops to attack Ukraine, and that Moscow has already deployed its operatives for actions in eastern Ukraine.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday that, according to intelligence, Russia is already laying the groundwork for Kiev to characterize itself as an aggressor who is soon preparing an attack on Moscow-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.

Psaki accused Russia of having already deployed operatives trained for civil war situations, who could use explosive devices against forces supported by Moscow, and Ukraine would be accused of the attack.

“We are concerned that the Russian government is preparing for an attack in Ukraine that could result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes if diplomacy does not achieve their goals,” Psaki said.

The White House did not specify how reliable the latest findings can be.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that the American intelligence community has no estimate that the Russians, who, according to the American agency AP, deployed about 100,000 soldiers along the Ukrainian border, have definitely decided to launch military action.

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