Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor told CNN he believes that there’s a 50% chance of a “major war” breaking out in Europe.
“There’s a 50 percent chance that there will be a major war in Europe today, with tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, both sides, dying,” Taylor told CNN on Sunday, referring to the crisis on Ukraine’s eastern border.
“A nearly 50 percent chance of that kind of outcome is troubling, is very troubling,” he continued.
Taylor isn’t saying anything that most other observers of the Ukraine crisis aren’t already saying: Russian President Vladimir Putin has set a military invasion of Ukraine in motion. It’s not too late for him to stop and pull back, but it’s clear that Putin has his own timetable and a clock somewhere in the Kremlin is ticking.
“If they decide they want to engage in diplomatic conversations and talks, we are very open to that and we’re hopeful they will do that. But ultimately, it’s a choice they need to make,” Psaki said.
Taylor, who departed his post in January 2020, told CNN he believes Putin has an “obsession” with Ukraine.
“He wants to be sure Ukraine doesn’t join NATO,” Taylor explained. “Ukraine has every right to apply to NATO, Ukraine’s a sovereign country. Mr. Putin doesn’t agree with that. Mr. Putin thinks that Ukraine is not a sovereign country…he thinks Ukraine and is really just part of Russia.”
Ukraine has been courting NATO since 2008. But some member nations — notably Germany and France — have been blocking Ukraine’s membership. One need only look at a map to figure out why. It would be like the old Warsaw Pact asking Mexico to join. It would be a very destabilizing move.
So many western observers are questioning Putin’s reasons for initiating the crisis because Ukraine will not join NATO any time in the near future.
But Putin needs his Reichstag Fire as a pretext for war. And his preparations for conflict are continuing.
The week before intensive diplomatic meetings began over the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, American and Ukrainian officials watched from afar as Russia began emptying out its embassy in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
On Jan. 5, 18 people — mostly the children and wives of Russian diplomats — boarded buses and embarked on a 15-hour drive home to Moscow, according to a senior Ukrainian security official.
About 30 more followed in the next few days, from Kyiv and a consulate in Lviv, in western Ukraine. Diplomats at two other Russian consulates have been told to prepare to leave Ukraine, the security official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss national security matters.
Another ominous sign has been the continuing stream of military equipment in Russia heading for the Ukraine border.
Enormous train convoys loaded with tanks, missiles and troops continue to push west through Russia, apparently heading for the Ukrainian border. Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the authoritarian leader of Belarus, announced on Monday that Russian forces and equipment had begun arriving in his country for a joint military exercise that would be held in two places: on Belarus’s western edge, near Poland and Lithuania, two NATO countries; and along the Ukrainian border, which could prove another pathway for invasion.
The exercise has been given a very American-sounding name: Allied Resolve. But in Kyiv, Ukrainian officials fully expect any Russian troops deployed to Belarus for the exercises to remain in place indefinitely, leaving Ukraine open to attack from the north, the east and the south.
Ukraine doesn’t have a prayer in any war with Russia, and the best they can do is fight for decent terms in a peace treaty. It’s extremely unlikely that any NATO country will come to their assistance, although the denunciations will be loud and long. It is to be devoutly wished that Biden won’t be that stupid.
But Biden is a president with deep political troubles. He wouldn’t be the first president to initiate a military conflict to distract voters from incompetent leadership. And he won’t be the last.