Is the US backing down in Ukraine?

As a sign of escalating tensions, US President Biden announced sanctions against Russia and expelled several Russian diplomats today. Both sides are talking tough and hurling threats at each other. Putin, of course, promises retaliation.

At the same time, the Biden Administration also announced that the two US warships en route to the Black Sea (where the Russian navy is holding live-fire exercises) are turning back. This is a welcome development. Inserting US ships into the Black Sea at this time increases the potential for catastrophic missteps.

One thing that worries even casual observers like me is the ad hoc and contradictory nature of US foreign policy. While the Administration is ratcheting up tensions with Russia, it recently announced its decision to withdraw from Afganistan. Declaring that there is no military solution to the problems in Afganistan, the Administration is bringing the troops home this Fall. (Actually, September 11, 2021.)

While the decision is welcome and overdue, my question is: are the moves in Afganistan a cover for the moves with Russia or vice versa? In other words, is the Administration ending the Afganistan entanglement to better engage with Russia? Or is the Russian aggression designed to provide cover for the disengagement in Afganistan. After all, the President faces a lot of criticism from his own party for his Afganistan decision.

For more background, read yesterday’s post.

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