When two countries with nuclear arsenals are having a conflict, choosing rhetoric over diplomacy is a mistake.

By Andrei P. Tsygankov, Canadian Dimension

The international crisis around Ukraine is far from over, but it has now revealed a problem at the very top of the Biden administration. In its relations with Russia, the president has prioritized pressures, threats, and rhetorical escalation over dialogue and negotiations.

The Kremlin has contributed to the crisis by surrounding Ukraine with troops from the southern, eastern, and northern directions. These actions have served to intimidate Russia’s neighbours and the Western states in the NATO coalition. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not hide his intention to create “tensions” with the West in order to draw attention to Russia’s security concerns.

Ukraine Crisis

However, the root cause of the crisis extends beyond Putin. Independent observers including some of the United States’ European partners acknowledge that Russia’s legitimate security interests in Europe have not been taken into consideration following the end of the Cold War.

The eastern expansion of Western military infrastructure accompanied by NATO enlargement and the alliance’s refusal to consider Russia’s multiple security proposals since the 1990s have now reached their limit. Russia’s main demands—an end to NATO expansion, the non-deployment of military infrastructure in the former Soviet states, and withdrawal of Western troops to 1997 positions—deserve to be discussed. These continent-wide security negotiations are long overdue.

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