Ahead of decisive talks with Russia's top diplomat, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken touched down in the powder-keg Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Wednesday in a show of NATO support in the face of a possible Russian invasion.
Blinken's visit added more fuel to a combustible situation between Russia and Ukraine as these two deeply corrupt former Soviet states with a common Slavic Orthodox Christian history veer dangerously towards war.
“Zelenskyy takes a pretty hard turn in 2020,” said Michael Kofman, a Russia military expert at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington, in a video analysis.
Kofman said Zelenskyy chose to take this path after he found no appetite in Ukraine for compromise with Russia over Crimea and the Donbas war. The Ukrainian president further angered Putin with moves to arrest Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian politician, and instituting bans on pro-Russia media. Zelenskyy has welcomed NATO funding and its military buildup in Ukraine.
“The bigger picture conversation, yes, is about obviously NATO enlargement,” Kofman said. He said Russia sees NATO using Ukraine as a “de facto NATO member.”
It remains far from certain that Putin will order an invasion of Ukraine, a move that would lead to casualties, a refugee crisis and the ostracization of Russia from the Western-backed international banking system.
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