Russia could get sanctions only in case troops enter Kyiv controlled areas…but Putin’s frantic diplomacy might just be the start of a future ‘pipeline and arms initiative’ linking like-minded regimes.

London. 20 Feb 2022 – G7, NATO and EU leaders showed unanimity on a common tough response to Russia in case of violation of territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“In case that Russia strikes, we will limit the access to financial markets for the Russian economy and (impose) export controls that will stop the possibility for Russia to modernize and diversify its economy,” said Commission president Ursula von der Leyen – and we have a lot of high-tech goods where we have a global dominance, and that are absolutely necessary for Russia and cannot be replaced easily” the Associated press reports.

But it also added in the report from Munich conference “Western leaders so far have not specified what precise Russian action would trigger sanctions. A French official who wasn’t authorized to be publicly named and spoke on condition of anonymity after Biden conferred with several counterparts on Friday said they were talking about an invasion of territory currently under the control of the government in Kyiv”.

Quoted by AP the source said “It is in the event of an invasion of this territory that … the massive sanctions that we are talking about would be triggered”.

Meanwhile NATO has relocated Ukraine staff from the capital Kyiv to Lviv in the west of the country and to Brussels for safety concerns.

Does all this mean that in case Russian military forces enter the pro-Russian separatist Donbas region the West will not impose any sanctions asap?

The overall impression is western countries, in particular the EU ones, are going extremely cautious with this crisis: imposing sanction will close the way of diplomacy and might not lead Putin to make a step back or to get back to negotiations. Why?

Because, this time, conversely to the situation in 2014, (the year of Euromaidan and Crimea annexation) the international scenario is much worse: Putin and Lavrov are courting half world, the non-democratic one included the worst regimes.

Russian alliances are expanding well beyond the traditional Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to include the most repressive regimes – map

In two months the Kremlin machine went bilateral, not just with its historical allies, Saudi Arabia, Syria (Assad) , Kazakhstan, but also with China, Egypt, India, Brazil, UAE, Japan, Cuba, playing a negotiating important role like with India, and Iran. One month ago president Ebrahim Raisi said his visit to Moscow could mark a “turning point” in bilateral relations between Iran and Russia; then Putin proposed a draft interim agreement for Tehran to stop enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity and dispose of its stockpile by exporting it to Russia, in turn Iranian government would access billions of dollars in oil revenues frozen in foreign bank accounts, including in South Korea.

Russia as major trade partner as with China, as global mediator, like with Iran and US over nuclear agreements: one month ago ahead of the Putin-Raisi meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Russia to use its influence on Iran to get back to the nuclear deal.

A growing influence, number of ties and allies which now is leading many analysts to say Putin is not actually interested in invading Ukraine, because the military building at the borders and the security crisis it’s instrumental to keeping international tension high in order to gain political stand and foster Russia’s international relations and trade while trying to re-write post WWII defense settings at its advantage.

Geopolitical analysts might be right, but Ukraine (regardless of a possible invasion), is not the core of the crisis, it’s the regional crisis triggering the future global one: it’s useless saying “this it’s not a war over gas”. Russian gas and weapons in fact are the means by which Russia is building up its economic independence from the West and from sanctions, opening its China style ‘pipeline and arms initiative’ linking the most authoritarian regimes through trade interdependence. This will increasingly reduce west democracies’ defense deterrence.