Yesterday’s most hopeful news is easy to summarize: the diplomatic path remains open, as could be deduced from the 90-minute meeting in Geneva between the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. For at least another week, things should stay the same. That is the time that Washington has to reply in writing to the treaty proposal with which Moscow intends to veto any expansion of NATO. It also demands the withdrawal of the Atlantic forces from all the countries that were under the Soviet yoke until the end of the Cold War. It is possible that to install the climate of a new conflict of these characteristics, as Putin intends, the threat of a hot spot is necessary, and that could be the role that Moscow reserves for Ukraine.
Russia has continued its military escalation, with the accumulation of troops, armored vehicles and aircraft on the borders with Ukraine, naval maneuvers in practically all the seas and the use of threatening language that is inappropriate for diplomacy. There is no guarantee, therefore, that he will accept the response that he will receive from the United States State Department to his claims to recover Soviet space, as it emerged from the map of Europe drawn at Yalta by Stalin and Roosevelt in 1945. With the An open diplomatic channel, the Western allies will have the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their unity and solidarity with Ukraine and to what extent the desire for strategic autonomy or energy anguish weigh as obstacles.
The European Union has so far been left out of the dialogue. The most committed government, which is that of Kiev, has also been excluded. Putin knows how to exploit these difficulties to weaken his adversaries, which is why the closing of ranks between NATO, the European Union and the partners of both organizations is more necessary than ever. The protagonists are out of place because a military invasion would have devastating consequences for a country like Ukraine, but also for Europe as a whole, its economy, its political integration and its security architecture. No one can deny the need for greater strategic autonomy for Europe, nor its leading role on the international diplomatic board. These are issues that require will, persistence and time, but they are not good now to evade the challenge that Russia poses to all Europeans and to do so with one voice and the highest resolution. In this sense, the Spanish Government is moving forward, in accordance with the decision of the NATO military committee in December, the sending of ships and planes to the area to reinforce the deterrence strategy.
The answer that Blinken will take to Lavrov will be about guarantees for the security of all in terms of disarmament, transparency and confidence-building measures. According to the Secretary of State, Russia should also be interested in the diplomatic route, instead of opting for the conflict route, “which precipitates the threats it intends to avoid.” From the sentence it follows that the reaction to a military action would lead to the immediate enlargement of NATO, at least with the entry of Sweden and Finland. Faced with the dialogue that Washington offers, the appropriate response from Moscow would be the beginning of the withdrawal of its troops from the Ukrainian borders.