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Can the US and Europe stop Russia from attacking Ukraine?

Ukrainian soldiers can be seen near Zolote-4 on the frontline, Ukraine on the 19th of January 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

As the Russian military presence at Ukraine’s border continues to grow, fears of an invasion are increasing. Crisis talks continue in limbo and the buildup of troops at the border does not seem to be slowing down.

Analysts are questioning whether or not the West is able to deter Russia and how much its allies will defend it.

Helimacroft, RBC Capital Markets head of global commodities strategy and Middle East & North Africa research said that Russia sends additional soldiers and weapons to Ukraine.

While they all have promised tough responses, the U.K. & the U.S. have taken the most drastic steps in promising crippling economic sanctions. This indicates that Russia has indeed invade plans and seeks to place a pro-Kremlin chief in Kiev. By contrast, the German naval chief was forced to resign after stating that Putin “deserved respect” — and suggesting that Berlin should join forces with Moscow against Beijing — and Chancellor Scholz called for “prudence” in the application of sanctions.”

In contrast to U.S., U.K. military aid, Germany refused to give Ukraine its military support. In addition the country has reportedly blocked Estonia from sending German-made weapons to Ukraine.

U.S. State Department recommended Sunday that all U.S. citizens in Ukraine leave the country immediately, citing Russia’s significant military buildup on the border. You can also order eligible family members of personnel at its embassy in Kyiv to leave the country due to the deteriorating security conditions.

The BBC’s diplomat correspondent reported Monday that Britain has also begun to remove diplomatic personnel from the embassy it holds in Ukraine. The move comes after the U.K. accused the Kremlin on Saturday of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly denied it is preparing to invade its neighbor Ukraine, despite stationing around 100,000 Russian troops at various locations along the border, according to Ukrainian and Western officials, and building up military hardware there.

Russia says it has the right to move military personnel and equipment wherever it likes in the country, and last week accused the West of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine, a country that aspires to join both the EU and NATO as its government under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seeks closer ties with the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on the other side has voiced concern about the 1991 collapse of Soviet Union (of the Ukraine was a member) and has praised the historic ties between Russia and Ukraine.

In recent weeks, there have been several high-level meetings among NATO, U.S., and Russian officials to attempt to reduce tensions. However, these did not yield much.

Russia seeks legal guarantees that Ukraine won’t be permitted to join NATO and the U.S. military alliance NATO. This assurance has yet to come. Russia also demands that NATO reduce the presence of military personnel and infrastructure in Eastern Europe and former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. NATO officials and U.S. officials have also refused those demands.

John Herbst, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told CNBC on Monday that he thinks the West must “push back hard against Kremlin aggression” — and to do it sooner rather than later.

We’ve attempted appeasement with Putin. When he entered Georgia in 2008, we tried it and almost didn’t suffer any consequences. It was also tried with Crimea. He suffered nearly no consequences.” he stated.

Herbst said that Biden’s proposed framework if Russia escalates in Ukraine — additional sanctions, sending weapons to Ukraine and the deployment of more NATA forces to Russia’s border — was reasonable, but “not sufficiently active.”

We should move those NATO forces now, that’s what we should do. He stated that we should send those weapons right away. The Biden administration seems to be moving in these directions. It needs to move faster and stronger, and it must be done in concert with our allies.

Can Russia be deterred by more sanctions?

The U.S., U.K. and EU have all warned Russia that it will face further crippling sanctions if it invades its neighbor — but Russia is already used to operating under sanctions.

In the aftermath of Ukraine’s 2014 annexe of Crimea, sanctions were placed on key sector officials (such as energy and finance). Its role in pro-Russian rebellions in Ukraine has been where low-level fighting between Ukrainian troops, pro-Russian separatists, and their respective governments since then.

Russia received more international sanctions for election interference in 2016 by the U.S., cyberattacks against America and nerve agent attacks in the U.K. in 2018. among other misdemeanorsHowever, Russia denies involvement in these events repeatedly despite the evidence.

When it comes to the current situation with Ukraine, Western allies have again threatened a tough response to Russia — but there has been public disunity over what punitive measures could be taken.

The U.S., U.K. support more sanctions against Russia’s economy in the event of an invasion by Ukraine. However, some European countries are reluctant to take such punitive actions for diplomatic or economic reasons. For example, Germany — Europe’s de facto leader — is reluctant to see sanctions imposed on its giant gas pipeline project with Russia, Nord Stream 2, which will supply much of Europe with natural gas.

Croft, RBC Capital Market’s Croft said Sunday that there is no way to know if any sanctions discussed in Western capitals would deter Putin’s intent to bring Ukraine back into Russia’s orbit.

According to leading sanctions experts, the West may change Putin’s mind if it were ready to impose harsh sanctions on Russia’s financial institutions (VTB (Sberbank), Gazprombank) as well as on its energy exports, similar to the sanctions imposed on Iran. She wrote that Washington, except for Nord Stream 2, has indicated it would seek to exempt energy form the punitive actions currently being prepared.”

She also said that, given the fact that many Western asset managers have Russian financials, it is important to ask whether or not the U.S. would blacklist such institutions.

Week ahead

This week, global markets remain nervous about the possibility of a military conflict between Russia (Ukraine) and Russia (Russia). Meanwhile, Western officials will hold crisis meetings to address further developments in this situation.

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meets Monday afternoon. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will be meeting with the foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden.

The political advisers will be available from Tuesday. Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany will hold “Normandy format” talks on eastern Ukraine in Paris on TuesdayAccording to Reuters:

The tensions are rising and Joe Biden, the U.S. president, is said to be considering sending several thousand U.S. soldiers, warships, and aircraft to NATO allies in Eastern Europe and Baltics. This would increase American military involvement. according to the New York Times.

Ukraine isn’t a NATO member, so the military alliance doesn’t have to defend Ukraine. However, this raises questions about just how far US and EU would be willing to go to help Ukraine.

Antony Blinken (U.S. Secretary – State) will speak on Sunday told CBSWhile the U.S. was committed to diplomatic and dialogue with Russia, he said that “while we do that, we are building up defenses and we’re creating deterrents.” He added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have “massive implications”.

Dominic Raab (UK’s Deputy Prime Minister) said that Ukraine was a sovereign country, and should determine its fate. We will be supporting them to defend themselves. He said that Russia could invade Ukraine and install a puppet government, which would have “very serious consequences.”

However, he said any possibility of British military intervention in Ukraine is “extremely unlikely.”

“What we’ve said is that our team are ready and willing to help the Ukrainians defend themselves. This is absolutely correct for defense purposes. We want to ensure that there is enough economic damage to the Kremlin from doing this (invading), that they don’t think twice”, he said to Sky News Sunday.

Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.