With tensions between the United States and Russia over tens of thousands of Russian troops now massed near Ukraine’s border, recent phone calls between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week and the announcement of U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva this month were both wise and welcome.
But lessening tensions won’t be easy. Putin forced the talks with his military buildup and publicly demanded immediate guarantees: that Ukraine not join NATO; that NATO not expand farther to the east; that the United States not deploy missiles on Russian borders; and that NATO reduce its forces in Eastern and Central Europe. These “red lines” have been rejected out of hand by the Biden administration.
But instead of demanding de-escalation before progress in talks could be made, imagine if Biden had taken the first steps toward negotiations between the two countries. What would a sensible U.S. posture look like?
It would start with a serious review of U.S. security concerns — and how a “foreign policy for the middle class” would prioritize those concerns. Surely, the global pandemic — which has taken 824,000 American lives and counting — would be top of the list. Addressing that demands massive efforts both inside the United States and around the world to provide vaccines and build public health capacity to track, test and treat.
Read the full article in The Washington Post.