Biden’s cynical ploy to return to Iran deal because of Ukraine

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President Biden’s speech announcing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and declaring a set of sanctions against Russia’s elites is, on the surface, a typical statement attacking a ruthless hegemonic dictator.

But it not only misses the forest for the trees — it enables the manipulative strategies of Russia and, surprisingly, Iran.

The key point missing from Biden’s speech is that Russia does not accept Ukraine as a state. The Kremlin did not merely recognize the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk separatists; the constitutions of these ersatz republics call for annexation of the entire region.

Former President Dmitry Medvedev’s rhetoric describing Ukraine as a colony with a puppet regime, as well as leaked lists of pro-Russian officials who would be welcomed by Moscow in any new government, show that Putin’s plans go far beyond annexation of swaths of territory.

A failed coup announced by Ukraine’s government some months prior shows that Putin has been trying to avoid a major conflagration by getting to the end result in the most efficient way possible — by removing the legitimate government. He’s selling his actions to his own population as reclamation of Russian territory; therefore, any sanctions by the international community will be viewed as illegitimate efforts to prevent Russia from securing its own territory.

President Biden may be using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse to return to the Iran nuclear deal.
President Biden may be using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse to return to the Iran nuclear deal.
EPA/Chris Kleponis / POOL

Even significant sanctions on political elites will be of little importance. Putin, who publicly humiliated the head of SVR (Russian external intelligence) during the Security Council meeting, made it clear that he’s the only one in charge.

Without isolating Putin himself and the very few people he’s empowered with any level of decision-making — or freezing Russia out of the international financial system altogether — sanctions will have no deterrent effect.

The second major factor Biden failed to mention is that the international community knew well in advance Putin’s intentions and, more importantly, the precise path to the invasion. For months, we have heard consistent reports about Putin’s intention to invade and US/European intentions to impose sanctions. These reports gave Putin plenty of room to prepare for any effects of sanctions (one of the Russian ambassadors admitted as much) but also obscured the exact pretext for the invasion — the recognition of the separatists — Putin would use.

Removing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
Removing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Putin played up the image of a megalomaniac entrenched in his implausible demands on NATO, but he effectively called the world’s bluff on refusing to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty in any meaningful way.

As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in December, once the sanctions from Nord Stream 2 were removed, Putin had nothing holding him back from invading Ukraine and exploiting it.

Which brings us to Biden’s other foreign policy failure, the Iran deal.

The Ukraine invasion directly benefits the Islamic Republic. That’s why, after months of stagnation in Vienna, in the days leading up to Russia’s recognition of the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine, we are hearing that a deal with Iran is close to being signed.

The Iranian nuclear deal talks in Vienna have picked up since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine emerged.
The Iranian nuclear deal talks in Vienna have picked up since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine emerged.
EPA

Biden has alluded to securing cheap Iranian oil as an answer to high gas prices in the United States, a policy which has now been picked up by the media. Biden hit on rising oil prices again in his Tuesday speech, as did Kamala Harris in the course of the Munich conference.

Biden is cynically using Russia’s destabilization of the global energy market to argue for the return to appeasement for the ayatollahs.

Ukraine was likely sacrificed well in advance in exchange for a lucrative energy deal and Iran’s cooperation in Vienna.

Irina Tsukerman is a human rights lawyer and a geopolitical and security analyst, the CEO of Scarab Rising, a media and security consultancy, and the editor-in-chief of The Washington Outsider.



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