“We imagine President Putin has made the choice,” Mr. Blinken mentioned on Sunday, “however till the tanks are literally rolling and the planes are flying, we are going to use each alternative and each minute we now have to see if diplomacy can nonetheless dissuade President Putin from carrying this ahead.”
The White Home launched an announcement on Sunday night time that Mr. Biden had accepted “in precept” a summit with Mr. Putin after the assembly between Mr. Blinken and Mr. Lavrov, once more specifying that it might solely happen within the absence of an invasion.
The data handed to Mr. Biden from the intelligence businesses left unclear whether or not Mr. Putin’s orders would lead to an enormous invasion or a extra gradual method that might give the Russian chief extra alternatives to take advantage of fissures simply beneath the floor within the Western alliance arrayed towards him. He might, for instance, check the proposition that Germany or Italy, the 2 Western European nations most depending on Russian-provided gasoline, may falter of their resolve.
These had been the eventualities being mentioned most intensely this weekend on the Munich Safety Convention, the annual assembly of presidency ministers, company leaders and strategists, the place attendees gamed out Mr. Putin’s decisions.
“If he’s intent on escalating, I don’t assume it’s a sudden blitzkrieg to Kyiv and the ouster of the Zelensky authorities,” mentioned Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, a geopolitical consulting agency. “It’s more likely to appear like a recognition of the independence of the breakaway territory” round Luhansk, within the east.
“You hope, in case you are Putin, that results in extra skittishness of among the NATO allies, much less alignment with NATO, extra alternatives for Russia to get what it desires with out having to go full-scale into Ukraine,” Mr. Bremmer mentioned.
A couple of weeks in the past, some American officers shared that sentiment. Mr. Putin, they famous, presumably wished to realize his objective — a halt to Ukraine’s drift towards the West — as cheaply and with as few casualties as doable. All he sought was a pleasant, pliable authorities just like the one he has in Belarus, mentioned one senior American official, who spoke on the situation of anonymity due to the persevering with diplomatic efforts. The president of Belarus, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, has tied the safety of his nation to the presence of the Russian army. (“They are going to be right here so long as obligatory,” mentioned Mr. Lukashenko, who’s contemplating inviting Russia to position its nuclear weapons again on Belarusian territory.)