The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the US and its allies are preparing for a new world where they no longer try to cooperate and coexist with Russia. Instead, they are planning a long-term strategy that aims to “isolate and weaken” the country.
While the West has been hostile to Moscow for many years, Europe has enjoyed a robust trade relationship with Russia and is incredibly reliant on Russian energy imports. But the EU is looking to change that and has already announced a ban on Russian coal.
The EU is also working on plans to ban Russian oil and eventually gas with the goal of ending all Russian energy imports by 2030. The plan is meant to hurt Russia, but Europe’s economy will also take a significant hit. So far, Western sanctions have exemptions for Russian energy deals, but that would change if Europe stops its imports, and the sanctions campaign could escalate further.
When it comes to the military aspect, NATO is looking to seriously bolster its forces near Russia. Over the past few months, the US has sent tens of thousands of additional troops to Europe, many of which were deployed to Eastern European countries that border Ukraine and Russia.
US military leaders are looking to make the increased troop presence permanent. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has floated the idea of the US’s Eastern European allies building new permanent bases that US troops can rotate through.
President Biden signaled that the US goal for Russia is regime change when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” A senior European diplomat told the Post that while “we don’t say regime change … it is difficult to imagine a stable scenario with Putin acting the way he is.”
The new focus on hurting Russia will be incorporated in new strategy documents. The Biden administration’s National Security Strategy could be released soon and is expected to be altered from its initially planned focus on China and domestic issues. The Pentagon recently briefed Congress on its new National Defense Strategy to Congress, which identified China as the top priority but also named the “Russia challenge” as another area of focus.
NATO will unveil its new Strategic Concept document in June. The previous one was written in 2010 and called for a “true strategic partnership” with Russia, but comments from NATO officials make it clear that will no longer be a goal. “Meaningful dialogue, as we strived for before, is not an option for Russia,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this month.
A significant aspect of the West’s campaign against Russia is pouring weapons into Ukraine that are meant to kill Russian troops. The US has pledged a whopping $2.6 billion in new military assistance since Russia invaded on February 24, and more so-called lethal aid is expected to flow.
Biden administration officials have said they expect a “protracted” conflict in Ukraine that could potentially last for years. They have said they are working to stop the conflict, but the US has abandoned diplomacy with Russia as a potential avenue to end the fighting. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hasn’t spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov since February 15.