Four months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the two countries have not been affected by the war. The economic fronts of the conflict are linked to rising energy prices and the rise of the food crisis, inflation and the potential for months and years of war.
President Joe Biden is in Europe this week to find out. He met over the weekend with a group of seven major economies known as the G7 in Germany. Together, they pledged $ 600 billion for a global infrastructure program in response to China’s investment in the developing world. On Tuesday, Biden will travel to Madrid for his fourth NATO summit. The challenge for Biden, when he is facing the hot war and its many consequences, is whether this journey can go beyond a symbolic victory.
This will be Biden’s second individual wartime NATO summit, and it is important, as Sweden and Finland’s historically non-aligned countries have formally requested to join the security alliance. But joining NATO requires the consent of all 30 member states, and Turkey’s obstructive demands mean that the alliance’s expansion in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression remains within the realm of symbolism.
At the summit, NATO will unveil a new guideline to update the alliance’s worldview, which was last issued in 2010. Experts say the symbolic warning for the alliance’s rival Asia will be the first to mention China in the document.
G7 announces new sanctions against Russia Including gold. But economic sanctions on Russia have created early cracks in Western unity, affecting the world economy.
The most important development in line with Biden’s visit is the EU’s welcome to Ukraine’s candidacy for membership. That too is symbolic. It could take decades for Ukraine to meet EU conditions.
Of course, symbolism has its own power. For Biden, the task in Europe is to take the symbolic unity of NATO countries and provide unity around NATO’s objectives in war – and to address other global challenges.
All problems to be solved in NATO and G7
In a recent essay for the New York Times, Biden outlined what the United States does in Ukraine: “It will not seek or ignore regime change in Russia.” NATO’s direct involvement in the war. He unwittingly posed a permanent question: What are the strategic objectives of NATO and the United States in Ukraine?
Douglas Lute, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to NATO from 2013 to 2017, said: “Our overall objective in Ukraine is still somewhat less. Formulation, “he told me.” We are trying to calibrate our support for Ukrainian objectives, and this complicates matters here. “
But as the United States continues to send more weapons to Ukraine in addition to the already staggering amount of military aid, it is difficult to understand the strategic objectives of the war.
Much of this summit will be about aligning all 30 countries in the alliance. The problem is that each country is facing its own domestic divisions. In France, President Emmanuel Macron has just lost his parliamentary majority, and, in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the least popular member of his own cabinet. Germany is seeking new energy and defense policies, halting Russian oil purchases but still buying Russian gas, as it increases its military budget. And in the United States, Biden looks forward to possible medium-term shelling with high gas prices and staggering inflation, as Supreme Court rulings and ongoing gun violence polarize the country.
Although the United States has revived NATO this year and deepened its ties with Europe, experts say policy thinking is stuck in the post-Cold War past. “We were very focused on Europe in the 1990s, and then 9/11 happened, and we completely forgot about it,” said Max Bergman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. At the time, the United States was “distracted” by the fact that the nascent EU was not only a political union but also had economic and defense elements that could counterweight American power. “Washington does not have a real understanding of Europe today, does not understand the centrality of the European Union, and It tries to operate like it doesn’t exist, ”he told me.
The United States and Europe are also trying to navigate rising energy prices due to the war, and while Biden is trying to reduce the price of gas by any means necessary – Europe is unequally calculating what it might mean to cut Russian oil. “The climate is a big deal for Germany and the G7,” said Meg Lundseger, former U.S. executive director of the International Monetary Fund. “I don’t see policy changes in the United States that are needed, or funds going to clean energy that we need to make a big impact here.”
Joanna Rozpedowski, a researcher at the Center for International Policy, says G7 countries should move beyond Ukraine. “Afghanistan is an ongoing issue. Ethiopia, Haiti, Sri Lanka. But the Ukraine conflict – I am worried that it will overshadow all these crises, only because of the immediate and proximity of that conflict to Europe, “she told me.
How to unite NATO in Russia and China
At the summit, the revived NATO will try to meet the fork in the road, while making everything as stage-organized as possible. “NATO’s whole goal is a story of unity – maximum support for Ukraine – and one of the images of show leadership,” says Michael Kimmage, a Cold War-focused historian at Catholic University in the United States. . “But that’s definitely different from reaching some kind of strategic agreement.”
NATO, it may be said, finds itself in a paradox; It is structurally a defensive military alliance that, although involved in the war, is not technically part of it. “There’s always this unique rhetoric of gray territory or ambiguity where it claims to be there for Ukraine. But it’s actually NATO member nations that are doing the goods and not NATO,” said Kimmage, who served in the Obama State Department.
The most urgent agenda item for NATO may be the most politically controversial: every country agrees on a way out of this war.
Tom Pickering, a career diplomat who served as US ambassador to Russia from 1993 to 1996, says US engagement with enemies has closed all lines of communication with Russia. “I think it’s a self-constructed barrier,” he told me. “During the Cold War, we learned that long-running negotiations would bring some useful results, over time.”
The United States has been very focused on resolving diplomatic problems militarily, Pickering says, “while, in fact, military efforts have resulted in a solution as long as the length of the conflict.”
When Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz spoke to Putin on the phone last month, they called for a resumption of talks with Ukraine. The Ukrainian foreign minister criticized Macron.
Ukraine and Russia are not talking, but the leader of the majority of the Ukrainian parliament and the country’s chief negotiator with Russia, David Arkhamiya, has an open channel with his Russian counterpart. It’s important to “don’t completely destroy some relationship,” he said, “because eventually there will be some negotiation, and we’ll have to set something right.”
But in the wake of Russian atrocities in Bucha and Mariupol, many Ukrainians are not open to talks, Arkhamiya said at a recent German martial law event. He acknowledged that the situation in Ukraine was deteriorating.
A quick turnoff may not be possible now, if it ever was. The idea of finding off-ramps for Putin in order to save face could in itself be the date of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Donbass in 2014 – when Putin refused to take any off-ramps.
Now, the Biden administration seems to have abandoned the off-ramp concept and postponed it instead of the Ukrainian will. “So that’s different from the off-ramp metaphor. It’s a message of unconditional support,” Kimmage said. “There’s just no off-ramp. . ”
Although Russia is at war at the moment, observers will see how NATO addresses China in its new strategic concept – a document that is its “purpose in life,” as former Coalition Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gotemoeller put it.
As the US appears focused on curbing China’s military might in the Indo-Pacific region, European countries will have to re-focus on how to defend Europe. “The alliance will be careful not to escalate its competition with China, and I think it will be careful not to over-militarize the competition,” Lute told me. “This requires careful drafting by NATO, as it is a military alliance.” Protecting critical infrastructure, trade and investment in Europe from Chinese influence will be a priority for NATO’s approach to China.
The last NATO strategic concept was from 2010 and describes a different moment. “Today, the Euro-Atlantic region is at peace and the threat of a conventional attack against the NATO region is low,” it read.