Wednesday, January 19

Extremely tense situation

COMMON LINE: President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday night with President Vladimir Putin about the crisis on the border with Ukraine. Biden has placed great emphasis on playing on teams with Western allies.

The extremely tense situation on the border with Ukraine was in focus during the two-hour video meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. Biden expressed a deep concern that he shares with European allies.

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The reason is the large Russian force building up in the border areas with Ukraine. According to the White House, Biden called for relaxation and further negotiations.

But at the same time, Biden made it clear that the United States and its allies would respond with harsh economic sanctions and other measures in the event of a military escalation.

Inevitable and disturbing questions arise: Are we on the brink of a new great war in Europe? Will Ukraine survive as an independent nation?

US intelligence services believe Russia is planning to attack Ukraine on several fronts early next year. It could involve the use of 175,000 soldiers, supported by tanks and artillery.

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The Russian cyber and disinformation war is already underway. In Russian propaganda, the United States and NATO are the aggressive parties. The Kremlin claims that the West wants to use Ukraine as an advanced base to threaten Russia.

In this way, Putin can present a possible invasion as an act of defense. But there is still great uncertainty about what Putin wants to achieve.

It is not too late to prevent such a catastrophic development. It is largely up to Putin. Little is said about what emerged during the meeting between the two presidents, except that they told their close associates to continue the dialogue.

It is worth noting that before the digital summit, Biden spoke by telephone with the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

Even after the meeting with Putin, Biden spoke with the same four heads of government. It is important that the American president coordinates positions and plays on teams with European allies. In addition, Biden has in recent days had frequent contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A common message from Western countries is that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected. Strong economic and diplomatic pressure could make the price of an invasion of Ukraine too high.

Putin is trying to sow doubt, insecurity and division among Western allies. He must not succeed in that. We expect the new Norwegian government to stand in solidarity with our allies when Russia threatens a neighboring country.

We should cooperate with Russia when it is in the common interest, but clearly distance ourselves when required. This means that we must act in close cooperation with allies.

That we stand together against external threats is the best guarantee of peace and stability in Europe.

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