HomePoliticsCalls grow for China and India to speak common sense to Putin

Calls grow for China and India to speak common sense to Putin

“They should. I hope they do,” added the official, who like others interviewed for this article asked not to be identified to discuss internal deliberations.

A senior State Department official said US diplomats have been pressing Russia’s regional friends and foes to pressure Putin not to go down the nuclear route.

“We had pointed out in a series of talks with countries in the Indo-Pacific region (allies, partners or not) the importance of speaking with one voice against the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” the official said. without specifying whether the US relied on China and India. “Each country has a responsibility to lend its voice.”

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is struggling to get the United Nations to take action against Russia. One way could involve bypassing the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power, to adopt a resolution condemning Moscow’s plans to annex much of eastern Ukraine and calling on Russia to withdraw all its troops, officials said. Americans.

Officials are considering using an obscure provision in the UN charter, a move the governing body also used in 1950, after North Korea’s attack on South Korea. North Korea’s attack was backed by China and Russia, both members of the Security Council with veto power.

But US officials believe that one of the most promising ways to change Putin’s mind is to lean on Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a pair of world leaders believed to have significant influence over Putin. according to current and former officials. in the United States and Europe.

Porcelain has not publicly criticized his ally and has continued its military cooperation with Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine in February. Following the economic sanctions imposed on Russia, China also became an even bigger market for Russian products, particularly energy supplies.

But neither has he signed any major economic deals with Moscow since the invasion, as expected. And Putin himself hinted at Beijing’s growing concerns about Russia’s invasion at a meeting of heads of state at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan this month.

“We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukraine crisis,” Putin said. “We understand your questions and concerns about it.”

Xi, in particular, is seen as a potentially powerful voice to help prevent the crisis from escalating further.

“[Putin] and Xi have this limitless friendship, right? said Rose Gottemoeller, a former NATO deputy secretary general who has negotiated with Putin, noting the two leaders’ warm relations in recent years. “I should be listening to his friend right now.”

That also applies to Modi, a closer democratic ally to Washington than his Chinese counterpart, who expressed public discontent in Putin’s actions in Ukraine at the meeting in Uzbekistan.

And last week, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar expressed renewed concern about the situation in Ukraine, highlighting the threat of nuclear weapons.

“The trajectory of the Ukraine conflict is a matter of deep concern for the entire international community,” he told the UN. “The future prospect looks even more ominous. The nuclear issue is of particular anxiety.”

Gottemoeller, a Stanford University professor who stays in close contact with US and foreign diplomats, said: “I think they’re also sending messages of deterrence to Putin.”

“That, I hope, will be effective,” he added.

The White House and the State Department declined to comment on any efforts to encourage China or India to lean more heavily on Russia.

Behind the scenes

The informal talks intensified on Wednesday, when dozens of US, European and Russian arms control experts and former government officials held a private call to cobble together a strong international front.

“There continue to be multiple Track II talks,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, referring to unofficial talks conducted with the knowledge of representatives’ foreign ministries.

Putin and other top Russian officials issued new and increasingly bellicose threats in recent days that Russia would consider using nuclear weapons if it felt threatened by what it says is an effort by the United States and NATO to use Ukraine to attack Russia.

That prompted the Biden administration to warn of “catastrophic consequences” if Moscow crosses the nuclear threshold.

The White House remains on alert about Putin’s nuclear threats but has seen no evidence that Russia has taken steps to indicate it plans to use nuclear weapons, White House and Defense Department officials insisted this week.

US intelligence does not foresee that position either. will change after the announcement of the referendum results on Friday, according to officials.

The United States believes Putin knows his war effort is failing and knows he faces pressure at home. The signs of chaos and protest stemming from the call-up of military reservists last week will only add to that, and make it impossible for Putin to hide the failures of the war from the Russian people.

As a result, there is “universal concern about the unprecedented nature of the nuclear threat we face,” said Kimball, who participated in the private call between Western and Russian nuclear experts on Wednesday. “We are trying to figure out how we can respond in private and in public.”

He sees a growing role for world leaders to “reinforce Biden’s caution against Putin’s dalliances with the use of nuclear weapons,” he added.

“They should underline why everyone, especially Russia, loses if Putin breaks the 77-year-old taboo against the use of nuclear weapons,” he added.

outcast status

The Biden administration is also trying to rally the United Nations to put new diplomatic pressure on Putin by devising ways to get a proposed resolution on Ukraine through the world body and bypass the Russian veto in the UN Security Council.

“If Russia uses its veto to shield itself from accountability, we will look to the UN General Assembly to send an unequivocal message to Moscow,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Tuesday after a briefing. on the situation in Ukraine.

One possible pathway is known as “United for Peace” resolution, used in 1950, that could prevent deadlock within the Security Council, people familiar with the matter said.

Kimball said he believes the provision would also be an option for the world body to respond with force if Russia resorts to nuclear weapons, including taking collective action to respond to damage.

Gottemoeller argues that one of the strongest deterrents to preventing a detonation in the first place may be that a Russian nuclear attack on Ukraine would also erase one of Putin’s main talking points: that the United States is the only nation to use nuclear weapons. in a conflict.

Another US official pointed to the pariah status that would come with the use of nuclear weapons.

The person noted that “Russia has made nuclear threats on and off during the conflict” but also “has said on and off that it would never use a nuclear weapon.”

The official also noted that Putin signed a statement in January with the leaders of the United States, Britain, France and China stating that a nuclear war must never be fought and can never be won.

Gottemoeller predicts that Russia’s use of nuclear weapons would alienate the “Global South,” South Asia, Latin America and Africa, which have had traditional economic and political ties to Moscow.

“The Russians and Putin himself and his cabal have been very effective in keeping the Global South on their side and coming out and saying, ‘Look what the Americans and their imperial partners like the UK are doing,'” he said.

“I think that breaking the nuclear taboo would make them lose the Global South,” he added. “They would be much more isolated than they have been in this crisis. [Putin] needs its customer base in China and India.”

Graham Allison, a former senior Pentagon official and longtime adviser to the administration on nuclear policy, said better relations between Washington and Beijing “would make a big difference,” but “even absent that, I think there is an opportunity.”

“If I was working on it,” Allison added. “I would be working that angle as hard as possible.”

Nahal Toosi, Jonathan Lemire, and Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.

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