On June 14, 2021, Mr. Biden arrived in Brussels on his first trip to Europe as President. His principal task at the NATO summit was to put behind America’s allies’ troubled relations with the Trump White House and rally NATO’s support in the strategic competition with Moscow and Beijing.
The two paragraphs dealing with China, the first time in a NATO communiqué, started by saying that China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and areas relevant to Alliance security. In this connection, the Communique mentioned China’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal; its opaqueness in implementing its military modernization; its military cooperation with Russia, including through participation in Russian exercises in the Euro-Atlantic area; its “frequent lack of transparency and use of disinformation”.
G7 met in Elmau, Germany, on 26-28 June 2022. The communiqué issued following the meeting stressed G7’s condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and reiterated that G7 will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
The communiqué expressed concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion that increased tensions. It said there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea. It underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.
Last week, the US House of Representatives approved 40 billion dollars in additional aid for Ukraine by a vote of 368-57. The package of military, economic and humanitarian support was 7 billion dollars more than the 33 billion President Biden had requested. The package is expected to pass the Senate this week.
On April 5, 2022, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that assertions of “war crimes” are a pretext to torpedo the ongoing negotiations at a time when some light, however dim, has appeared at the end of the tunnel. Then, elaborating on the talks held in Istanbul on March 29, 2022, he said:
“For the first time ever, the Ukrainian side has put on paper that it is prepared to declare Ukraine a neutral, non-aligned, and non-nuclear state, and to refuse to deploy weapons from foreign states on its territory or to conduct exercises on its territory with the participation of foreign military personnel, unless they are approved by all guarantors of the future treaty, including the Russian Federation. The security guarantees envisaged by the treaty are a step toward everyone realizing that the negotiations need to completely rule out NATO’s eastward expansion, primarily to Ukraine, and to ensure indivisible security in Europe.”
The following was my summing-up of the Ukraine conflict seven years ago:
“News from Ukraine and Ukraine-related developments are not encouraging. The Minsk cease-fire remains fragile. Political and economic difficulties facing Ukraine show no sign of abating. The Government does not appear strong and determined enough. There has been no progress on the level of autonomy to be recognized to the separatist regions. The conflict between “federalization” and “decentralization” continues. Ukraine troops are now being trained by American officers. Russia’s naval deployments and air activity are becoming increasingly reminiscent of the Cold War. NATO is holding joint exercises in Poland, Lithuania, the US in Georgia. The Treaty on Alliance and Integration between Russia and South Ossetia has been submitted to the State Duma for ratification. The flow of immigrants and asylum seekers from Ukraine into EU countries is on the rise… The West continues to see Mr. Putin as an unpredictable leader determined not to allow Ukraine to chart its future. He says that he wants as close interaction as possible with the US, based on equal rights and mutual respect of interests and positions of each other. Both the West and Russia seemingly desire to put the Ukraine conflict behind and move forward but words and deeds do not match.” [i]
Last Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made an unexpected visit to Biarritz during the G7 summit. There he met with President Macron and had extensive talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. He later shared a picture taken during the meeting with the French President saying “Iran’s active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues. Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying.” The picture reflected the very cordial atmosphere of his meeting with the French President. Okumaya devam et →