US Allies Vigilant Amidst Russian Turmoil

US Allies Vigilant Amidst Russian Turmoil wsjnewspaper

US allies in Europe and the United States were actively assessing the situation unfolding in Russia, exchanging information and analysis through urgent video meetings. The political stability of global nuclear power was hanging in the balance, and Western officials considered it their top priority to clarify their non-involvement in the conflict between Russia’s army and the private mercenary group Wagner. To ensure this message, the US State Department sent a directive to its foreign missions, emphasizing that the United States had no intention of meddling in the matter. Simultaneously, European capitals refrained from coordinating military actions with Russia.

The Wagner paramilitary group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, seized control of the southern Russian city of Rostov and initiated movements toward Moscow. Putin responded by ordering his military to confront Wagner, labeling their actions as treason jeopardizing the country’s survival.

The stability of Russia, a major nuclear power, and the effectiveness of its armed forces were of great concern to global powers. French President Emmanuel Macron explicitly stated that the West did not seek a regime change and warned that any potential successor to Putin could further deteriorate international relations. Similarly, the White House reiterated that forcing Putin from power was not a goal for the United States.

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With Russia covering one-sixth of the world’s land area, its actions impacted diplomatic considerations from Beijing to Brussels. Some US officials believed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might weaken the country and discourage future attacks on neighboring nations. Meanwhile, certain American lawmakers hoped to oust Putin from his position.

Throughout the conflict, Eastern European capitals remained cautiously optimistic that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine could backfire, leading to the end of his 23-year rule. Regional officials believed that Russia was in a critical phase where Putin needed to regain control and reassure elites of his continued authority. Even if he succeeded, his power would be diminished compared to before Prigozhin’s uprising.

President Biden received his first briefing on Friday evening, followed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s discussions with counterparts from the Group of Seven and the European Union. Blinken emphasized the importance of close coordination with allies and partners as the situation continued to unfold.

The US State Department issued instructions to embassies worldwide, advising them not to engage with host governments on events in Russia. Discouraging the direct response to press inquiries or proactive engagement with host government officials.

Officials in Ukraine suggested to allies that the situation in Russia could provide an opportunity in the ongoing war. However, it remained uncertain if Kyiv, which had slowed its recent offensive against Russian forces, would accelerate its actions in the coming days.

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US allies along Russia’s borders closely monitored events not only in Russia but also in neighboring Belarus, as they closely tied the political fate of Belarus to Moscow. Estonia increased border deployments to prepare for potential influxes of Russian exiles or the risk of chaos spilling over into their NATO country. In Warsaw, Poland’s prime minister, president, and defense ministers held emergency consultations before engaging in discussions with their NATO counterparts.

President Andrzej Duda of Poland tweeted, “We monitor the course of events beyond our eastern border on an ongoing basis.”

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an authoritarian leader aligned with Putin’s government, refrained from sending troops to support Russia in Ukraine but deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus to send a message to the West. Putin and Lukashenko spoke over the phone, while a former commander of Belarus’s Independent Air Assault Brigade urged the defense of Belarus against Russia and the pro-Russian regime of Lukashenko.

While attention focused on events in Russia, US, Ukrainian, and European officials gathered in Denmark to discuss the war and rally support for Ukraine’s peace terms. Representatives from

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