United States’ Diplomatic Communication & Ukraine-Crisis! 

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

United States’ expertise at holding strategic command over controlling operation of diplomatic reins may well be assumed to have fumbled a little at propagation of so-called Ukraine-crisis because of alleged military designs of Russia. Yes, to a considerable degree, greater part of the world still depends on going by what is stated by White House as well as American media. Nevertheless, recent history has led several sections to reflect again on the degree to which United States’ “diplomatic communication” can be relied upon. United States’ sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan after around two decades has apparently served as an eye-opener about the degree to which dependence of a country on a superpower can be relied upon.  

The Afghanistan-card played by United States and former Soviet Union had apparently more to do with former’s aim to have the upper edge in their rivalry as Superpowers. US succeeded and Soviet Union ceased to exist with many of its republics declaring independence. Three decades have passed since collapse of Soviet Union and diplomatic recognition of only United States as Super Power. But all is not over as yet. A key aim of Russian President Vladimir Putin is gaining again the former stature once held by Soviet Union. Putin is not oblivious of the fact that over-indulgence in war-games is going to be of no help to it. This apparently explains closer ties being entertained with China and attempts being made to increase friendship with countries viewed earlier as only US allies. United States is certainly keeping a close eye on these and is apparently not too pleased about the same. And this is one side of the story. 

With respect to point made earlier about limited credibility of United States’ “diplomatic communication,” one may recall the hype once raised about so-called Arab Spring ushering (rather trying to impose) democracy in certain Arab countries. Certainly, the US media and White House went overboard in asserting this. All that is history now. When India and Pakistan, non-signatories to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) engaged in talks about their nuclear diplomacy, headlines of American media shrieked about these two permanent enemies heading towards MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), a nuclear war and so-forth. Despite skirmishes entertained between India and Pakistan, now and then, they have not backtracked from their nuclear diplomacy.  

Clearly, nature of United States’ diplomatic communication tends to have a specific purpose to suit its interest. If democracy could be imposed anywhere by external pressure, some importance could have been given to nature of the mirage called Arab Spring. Or if the same had not led to what is now worded as Arab Winter, hype raised about Arab Spring may have still prevailed. Similarly, United States’ Afghanistan-war has had virtually no impact on bringing terrorism in the region to a halt. The country and its citizens have been pushed backwards just as those affected by Arab Winter. 

Now, against this backdrop, what can be said about United States asserting that Russian invasion of Ukraine can happen anytime? This may be viewed as the US perception which Washington wants the world to believe. From the other side, Russia has asserted a few times about it having “withdrawn” its troops, which Moscow is well aware that most countries won’t easily accept. At the same time, Russia is apparently well aware of cards which are likely to backfire on its attempts to retain its former earlier stature. Chances of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine may be viewed as fairly limited from this angle.  

Besides, United States is fairly uncomfortable about dependence of many European Union members upon Russia for supply of natural gas. This explains Washington’s rigid opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is supported by Germany. Once Nord Stream 2 becomes functional, it would double the capacity of Nord Stream 1 pipeline. United States has asserted that it would block Nord Stream 2 if Russia attacks Ukraine. Economically and diplomatically, Russia’s concern is to push ahead Nord Stream 2. Ukraine stands to lose as this pipeline bypasses its territory making it lose the transit fees that Russia pays to send gas via its territory. Usage of Ukraine’s territory for commercial purposes also limits prospects of Russia invading the same.  

Russia’s opposition to Ukraine joining NATO is not likely to change in coming days. Ukraine’s desire to join NATO cannot be expected to make any headway till NATO accepts its membership, chances of which at present are minimal. At least, not till tension between Russia and Ukraine ceases because of collective defense principle binding NATO.  

United States also seems fairly wary of ties between Russia and China. The importance given by both to strengthening their economic and diplomatic relations, asserting strong opposition to certain moves of United States cannot be missed. The noise made by United States about Russian plans to invade Ukraine can certainly not be ignored. However, some priority needs to given to diplomatic reasons apparently prompting US to display its stand against Russia at present. This strategy of United States’ diplomatic communication has certainly led Ukraine-issue dominate headlines. Chances of this having any negative impact on other countries’ economic ties with Russia may be viewed as minimal. Nor can Russia be expected to invade Ukraine only because Washington has aired such speculations! 

Nilofar Suhrawardy is a senior journalist and writer with specialization in communication studies and nuclear diplomacy. She has come out with several books. These include:– Modi’s Victory, A Lesson for the Congress…? (2019); Arab Spring, Not Just a Mirage! (2019), Image and Substance, Modi’s First Year in Office (2015) and Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp, In the Name of Indian Secularism (2006).


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