Biden races to expand alliance against Russia, but faces resistance

WASHINGTON – Even before the start of the war in Ukraine, an international coalition came together to rally the world against the Russian invasion so quickly that President Biden later wonder In “Purpose and Unity Found in Months That We’d Take Years to Achieve.”

Now, with the conflict entering its fourth month, US officials face the disappointing reality of the powerful countries alliance Stretching from North America through Europe to East Asia may not be enough to break the looming stalemate in Ukraine.

With increasing urgency, the Biden administration is trying to persuade or persuade countries that Washington considers neutral in the conflict — including India, Brazil, Israel and the Gulf Arab states — to join the campaign of economic sanctions, military support, and diplomatic pressure to continue isolating Russia and decisively end the war. Until now, few, if any, of them were willing, despite their presence Partnerships with the United States On other major security issues.

Mr. Biden is embarking on an extraordinary diplomatic and political adventure this summer in Planning to visit Saudi Arabiawhich he had called an “outcast”. On Thursday, he met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. Mr. Bolsonaro visited Moscow a week before Russia invaded and declared Ukraine “symbiosis” With President Vladimir Putin.

In Los Angeles, Mr. Bolsonaro preempted any Biden push for Russia, saying that while Brazil remained open to helping end the war, “given our dependence on certain foreign players, we should be careful.”

“I have a country to run,” he said.

US officials acknowledge the difficulties in trying to convince countries that they can balance their own interests with the US and European drive to isolate Russia.

“One of the biggest problems we face today is the issue of the fence,” Samantha Power, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said Tuesday after addressing the administration’s efforts to promote free speech and fair elections. and other democracies against authoritarian leaders around the world.

She said she hoped Russian atrocities in Ukraine would persuade neutral nations to join the alliance against Moscow, “given our collective interest in the rules of the road that we all wish to see, and none of us wish to see used against our citizens.”

Russia and its partners, notably China, denounced the US government’s efforts to expand the alliance, which in addition to European countries includes Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“In the modern world, it is impossible to isolate a country, especially a huge one like Russia,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Thursday, according to state media.

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In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the United States had “forced countries to take sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and arbitrarily threatened to impose unilateral sanctions and long-term jurisdiction.” “Isn’t this repressive diplomacy?” he added.

Russia’s currency, the ruble, collapsed shortly after Mr. Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in February. but since then bounce back As Russia continues to earn hard currency from exporting energy and other goods to many countries, including China, India, Brazil, Venezuela and Thailand.

For some countries, the decision to align with the United States may have life-or-death consequences. Washington warns drought-stricken African countries Not buying grains Russia stole it from Ukraine at a time when food prices are soaring and millions of people may starve.

said Michael John Williams, professor of international relations studies at Syracuse University and a former adviser to NATO.

“Washington thinks the West will win this war, but the Kremlin believes it will win in the Global East and South,” Mr. Williams said.

In a March vote on a UN Resolution Condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, 35 countries abstained from votingMost of them are from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. This alarmed US officials and their allies, who nonetheless noted that 141 of the 193 countries blamed Russia. Only five countries – including Russia – voted against the measure.

Brazil voted to condemn Russia, and Mr. Bolsonaro pressed for negotiations to end the war. But his country continues to import fertilizers from Russia and Belarus, an ally of Moscow.

India and South Africa both abstained from voting at the United Nations. India has a long-standing strategic partnership with Russia and depends on it for oil, fertilizer and military equipment. The Biden administration has had a little luck Make India join its alliance.

Indian officials say their imports from Russia are modest. During a visit to Washington in April, India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, dismissed questions on the matter, saying “our total purchases for this month are likely to be less than what Europe is doing in the afternoon.”

“So you might want to think about that,” he said.

But Europe is now reducing its energy imports, in a partial embargo on Russian oil, while India is doing it It is said in conversations With Moscow to increase its already increasing purchases of crude oil.

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South Africa’s relations with Russia go back to the Cold War, when the Soviet Union supported the anti-apartheid movement that changed the country’s internal power dynamics.

Trade between the two countries is modest, but South Africa, like many other countries, has long suspected Western colonialism and the United States as an unrivaled superpower. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa NATO has accused He provoked Russia into the war and called for the resumption of diplomatic talks. In a phone call in April, Biden urged him to accept a “clear and united international response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” according to him. White House statement.

a month later, Lamented Mr. Ramaphosa The impact of the conflict on the “bystander” countries that he said would also “suffer from the sanctions imposed on Russia.”

Brazil, India and South Africa – along with Russia and China – are members of a group of countries It represents a third of the global economy. In an online meeting of the group’s foreign ministers last month, Moscow Offered to set up oil and gas refineries with its partners. The group also discussed expanding its membership to other countries.

Other countries that abstained from the UN vote, including Uganda, Pakistan and Vietnam, accused the US-led coalition against Russia of shutting down any chance of peace talks with its military support for Ukraine. US and European officials assert that the weapons and intelligence it provided serve only to help Ukraine defend itself from the Russian military.

The growing urgency in the Biden administration is embodied in the president’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia, despite his previous condemnation of it. fatal acts and potential war crimes. Biden’s efforts, already criticized by top Democrats, are aimed in part at getting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help sideline with Ukraine. One goal is to have these countries coordinate a significant increase in oil production to help lower global prices while the United States, Europe, and other countries boycott Russian oil.

US officials have been disappointed by the declared neutrality of the Gulf Arab states, which buy American weapons and put pressure on Washington for its policies against Iran, their main adversary.

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Israel, which buys American weapons and is the closest ally of the United States in the Middle East, has expressed its solidarity with Ukraine. At the same time, however, it has Resist supporting some sanctions and direct criticism from Russia.

Until Biden offered to meet him in Los Angeles, Mr. Bolsonaro indicated he would not go to the top of most hemisphere heads of state. It took former Connecticut Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the summit’s special advisor, a direct plea to get Brazil to attend.

Valentina Sader, a Brazilian expert at the Atlantic Council, said the Biden administration is expected to continue talking to Mr. Bolsonaro about Brazil’s relations with Russia and China.

But she said it was unlikely Bolsonaro would move away from Putin. “Brazil takes its interests into account,” said Ms. Sader.

US officials came to the same conclusion about China, which is Russia’s most powerful strategic partner. They say China has clearly chosen to side with Russia – as evidenced by the continued emphasis by Chinese officials on Mr. Putin’s criticisms of the United States, NATO, and their countries. Spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories that undermine the United States and Ukraine.

On February 4, three weeks before Russia began its massive invasion, Mr. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing while the two governments met Announcing the “Without Borders” Partnership.

In late May, China and Russia held The first joint military exercise Since the start of the war in Ukraine – strategic bombers have been flying over the seas of Northeast Asia while Mr. Biden was visiting Japan.

But China has also refrained from providing economic or military aid to Russia, though Requests from MoscowUS officials say. Mr. Biden Mr. Shi warned In a video call in March that there would be “consequences” if China provided material aid to Russia, Chinese officials and businessmen feared that their companies could face sanctions if the companies provided significant support to Russia.

“Secondary sanctions are having an impact, and China doesn’t want that to affect their companies,” said Alexander Gabiv, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who was recently… Based in Moscow. “Many Russian sources tell me that they talk to the Chinese and hear no response.”

Michael Crowley Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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