In an extraordinary escalation of an already terrifyingly dangerous situation, US president Joe Biden has called for regime change in Russia and years of war.
During a speech in Poland on Saturday, he said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”. Biden did not mean he was banking on a new revolution in Russia. He was laying out wholly new objectives for the war in Ukraine that cannot stop until the Russian president has been toppled.
It’s the arrogance of US military power that it believes it can dictate who is or is not in charge of any country. And it’s even clearer the West wants Ukraine wholly subordinate to US power and Nato troops if Russia is defeated.
Any negotiation to end the killing in Ukraine that leaves Putin in control falls short of what Biden has declared is necessary. Biden underlined this by offering a nightmarish vision of the future. “In this battle, we need to be clear-eyed,” he said. “This battle will not be won in days, or months, either. We must commit now, to be in this fight for the long haul. There will be a cost but it’s a price we have to pay.”
It will be ordinary people, in Ukraine and elsewhere, who will be told to pay the price in blood and strangled living standards. The speech means even greater escalation immediately—and fierce confrontation so long as Putin stays in power.
The White House immediately sought to “clarify” Biden’s comments, insisting his statement should not be taken as official policy. But it fits exactly with the rampant escalation of the past week. His “mistake” was to say openly what until now has been shrouded in talk about freedom and democracy.
His openness embarrassed his allies and panicked his advisers. On Sunday US secretary of state Antony Blinken said, “We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia—or anywhere else, for that matter.” And Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, France’s president Emmanuel Macron and even Boris Johnson’s officials distanced themselves from Biden’s remarks.
Biden has blundered. His speech uttered views that are best kept for secret cabals. They will reinforce the belief held in much of the world that the Russian invasion is terrible but the US is also a murderous bully.
Biden’s speech concluded a visit to Europe that included a summit with Nato, G7 and EU leaders, as well as a visit to US troops stationed in eastern Poland close to the Ukrainian border. The outcome is increased militarisation of Nato’s “Eastern Flank” by tens of thousands of troops from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
The British ministry of defence announced on Saturday that Typhoon jets are deploying to Romania to join the Nato “air policing mission” for the Black Sea region.
Polish leaders continue to push for a Nato “peacekeeping force” into Ukraine, even though Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko said this would “mean World War III”. And Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky continues to demand a no-fly zone that would mean shooting down Russian planes and blasting Russian air defences. This is a possible route to direct war between nuclear-armed states.
As well as using Nato to bind 29 other countries to the US militarily, the US is also increasing the economic ties. It is ramping up shipments of liquefied natural gas to Europe partially to replace supplies of Russian energy.
The US aims to ship 50 billion cubic metres of liquified natural gas (LNG) to Europe a year until at least 2030, officials said on Friday. This would make up for about a third of the gas the EU imports from Russia. It’s more than double what the EU imported last year—which was itself a record.
And the US is also developing sanctions. During Biden’s trip to Europe his officials said the US is ready to impose sanctions on third countries that are “facilitating Russia’s invasion”. This potentially extends the financial punishment to individuals and businesses in China and India. This can only spread the dislocation of the world economy. It is already leading to soaring food prices and shortages that hit hundreds of millions of poorer people.
Meanwhile, the brutal Russian assaults in Ukraine continue with hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the city of Mariupol. They have endured weeks of attacks by Russian forces in the southern port city.
It’s more crucial than ever to oppose the Russian invasion, Nato and the bloody march of all the imperialists.
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