The US counters Russia’s annexation gambit
Speak softly and convey a big "Drop dead"
The United States just launched a round of bullhorn bargaining. Superficially quiet, the messages actually say a lot.
It had become imperative to somehow counter Russia’s apparent strategy of:
Staging bogus annexations of various Ukrainian regions.
Declaring that, as parts of Russia, they were now under Russia’s nuclear umbrella.
I proposed a speech by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in which he would carefully and respectfully convey that the US would not honor any such declarations, even the ones already made about Crimea.
The US seems to have taken a different rhetorical approach, by offhandedly dismissing Russia’s claims about Crimea -- and thus surely also about any future parts of Ukraine Russia claims to annex. This happened twice in the same news cycle, which might just be coincidence (both times were in response to reporters’ questions), but carries the weight of repetition even so.
… is Crimea considered to be Russian territory for those restrictions that you've placed on the HIMARS
… it is absolutely U.S. policy that Crimea is Ukraine. So I want to be clear on that matter. And at the same time, of course we are providing Ukraine with support capability -- you mentioned the HIMARS systems -- but also intelligence so that they can defend themselves on the territory of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, NBC News reported that:
A U.S. official with knowledge of the matter has told NBC News that the Biden administration has placed no restrictions on Ukraine launching strikes in Crimea using U.S.-supplied long-range weapons like HIMARS.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously said that Ukraine had committed to not using such weapons to target sites inside Russia.
The official insisted the U.S. is neither encouraging nor discouraging Ukraine to launch attacks in Crimea, but said, “simply put, the targeting decisions of where the Ukrainians strike is up to Ukraine.”
And so the US has stated that it will pay no respect to Russian claims about Ukrainian territory. In theory, this has always been US policy. But in practice, it is a major change.
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