US pays lip service as Russia breathes down Ukraine’s neck

US-led NATO helplessly watches as Russian forces threaten to storm into the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. While Biden is rapidly losing his grip on the US allies, China’s support to Putin has upset the western calculations in dealing with the Ukrainian crisis, writes Gopal Misra

Amidst the Russian military operations, the US President, Joe Biden, suffered yet another diplomatic setback, when a section of American media reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has refused to take a phone call from President Biden regarding the U.S. ban on Russian oil imports. The American media has also reported that the United Arab Emirates leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed also had declined to speak to Biden on the issue of maintaining or reducing the gas prices.

These developments, through promptly denied by the White House, indicate that the Biden is rapidly losing his grip on the American allies, especially among the NATO members. Both Germany and France have refused to send their forces in support of the Ukrainian Government. On the other hand, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping’s support to  the Russian President, Vladimir Putin has upset the western calculations in dealing with the Ukrainian crisis.

The fissure in the western alliance, perhaps, led to the failure of the third meeting between Ukraine and Russia in Turkey on March 10. The White House has also not responded to the interview of bin Salman published recently in the Atlantic. He has reportedly told the journal that the Saudi relationship with the U.S. was “to keep it and strengthen it”, but when asked whether Biden misunderstood him, he added, “Simply, I do not care.”

With the Russian forces ready to storm the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, anytime, the US-led NATO is unable to assert for stalling the invasion. During the talks in Turkey, the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Ukraine would maintain its neutrality and in future would not join NATO. But Lavrov, asserted that the military operations would continue till the Russian demands are met; that Ukraine  recognize the annexation of  Crimea and the  independent status for the Russian enclaves,  Donetsk and Luhansk. The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had hosted the talks in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya. The Ukraine resistance against the Russian forces could be attributed to the flow of weapons from the U.S. and its NATO allies.


Russian Version of Munroe Doctrine

The two centuries old the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, appears to be being reinvented with Russia and China reasserting their respective zones of influence. The then American President James Monroe in December 1823 had announced it as the U.S. policy toward the Western Hemisphere asking the European powers to keep off from further colonizing the Americas or setting up puppet rulers in the region. It was also invoked during the Cuba missile crisis in 1962, when the then US president, John F. Kennedy, opposed the deployment of the Russian missiles with nuclear head.

The Ukrainian conflict, perhaps, is an effort to tell the West that it would not allow any penetration in the region, which was once the part of the USSR. It, rightly, is being reinterpreted as an European and Chinese versions of the Munroe doctrine. It is going to upset the American plan to challenge China in the Indo-Pacific region. The two world powers, Russia and China have joined hands for maintaining their respective positions in the Eastern Europe to the Central Asia, and China commanding the rest of the world, with a special focus in the Indo-China. It appears that a joint strategy was finalized during the Putin’s visit to Beijing on February 4, just three weeks before the military conflict began. Russia has endorsed China’s view of self-governing Taiwan as an “inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan,” while China backed Russia in opposing the further enlargement of NATO.

Therefore, it is not surprising that China has refused to criticize the Russian invasion. It, however, tried to distance itself from Putin’s war by calling for dialogue and the respect of national sovereignty, but it could be just a statement to cater the ‘gullible’ western media, which is being liberally patronized by the Chinese companies with liberal advertisements and other financial investments. A section of the western media has even claiming that “Putin failed to tell the Chinese leader his plans before their February statement” However, on its part China has been consistent in supporting Russia. It has been denouncing the western trade and financial sanctions against Russia.

In an hour-long telephonic conversation between the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and his Chinese counterpart, Wang, the latter said that China opposes any moves that “add fuel to the flames” in Ukraine, and according to the Chinese media reiterated that Washington is to be blamed for the conflict for failing to take Russia’s security concerns into consideration.


Biden’s Knee-jerk Approach

It appears that the US President, Joe Biden, like his predecessors is following the policy of keeping  the military-industrial establishment in good humour, though it often works against the vital interests of the American state and its geo-politics.

There is also a difference between the American ruling elite and the Russian oligarchs and the huge financial interests of the neo-rich memebrrs of the ruling Communists in China. While the military-industrial complex decides the policies of the state in the USA, in China and Russia the state dominates all the business and financial interests of the individuals as well as of the ruling elite. The Biden administration genuinely believed that by hitting the financial interests of the Russian oligarchs, his administration would be able to ‘pressurize’ Putin and his government, but the strategy has failed. On the other hand, the Chinese penetration in the American system is much deeper, and it is difficult to cleanse the key areas of the American establishment from the well-entrenched Chinese influence.


Biden: the Last Mughal 

During his prolonged career in managing the foreign affairs , Biden is known for committing diplomatic blunders. He suddenly withdrew forces from Kabul and it cannot be ruled out that his government would finally concede Taiwan to China.If Ukraine, a member of the United Nations  could be abandoned by the West, Taiwan is not a member of the international body. If the threat of sanctions could not prevent the Russian forces, it is highly unlikely that China could really be deterred by the sanctions. It may also be noted that when Ukrainians seek weapons, Biden is ready to pray for them.

Biden alone cannot be blamed for the steep decline of the American influence across the globe, the blame should also be shared by its military-industrial establishment. They manipulate the American state to create crisis and then sell their weapons. It is immaterial for the ruling elite whether their action would be compromising the interests of the American state as well as their allies. Under the pressure of this unholy nexus, Biden administration shamelessly ousts the French submarine business in Australia. He replaces the French by offering nuclear submarines to Australia, though in this process alienating America’s key NATO ally.

It appears that unless the American state is able to prevail upon the profiteers of the military-industrial establishment, its decline in the geo-politics is going to be much pronounced. The USSR was fragmented during the 1990s, and thus allowing free or unhindered access of the western powers to the vast resources of the Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Apart from this new opportunity to access the natural resources, the erstwhile colonial European powers, now being led by the USA, could also penetrate in the strategic Black Sea region through Ukraine, which was a part of the USSR, just three decade ago. However, their myopic policy to restrain or encircle Russia is now proving  to be counterproductive. Russia under Gorbachev and Yeltsin was once seeking a membership in NATO, but it was declined. It appears that an assertive Putin is going to give a blow to the American influence in Europe. The European Union is not only reluctant to jump into Ukrainian war, it is also feeling the pinch of soaring prices of the petroleum products.