Vice President Kamala Harris poses for photos with Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau Thursday, November 18, 2021, on the balcony of the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. Photo credit: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Vice President Harris travels to Germany, another move to strengthen allies as the Ukraine-Russia border situation intensifies

Vice President Harris will emphasize “the importance of allies and alliances,” as NATO members position themselves militarily.

As the threat of Russia invading Ukraine grows, on Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference. A forum designed “for debating international security policy” and addressing imminent security issues in the world, Vice President Harris prepares to convey a “unity is a source of strength” message in her speech, said a senior administration official in a White House press briefing.

Off the heels of White House officials disputing Russia’s claims to have removed troops from borders shared with Ukraine, the Biden-Harris Administration “believe an attack [by Russia against Ukraine] could come at any time,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in another press briefing.

“Biden never trusted Russia,”  Dr. Sherice J. Nelson, a political science professor and international relations scholar at Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, told Ark Republic. She furthered. “He still has fresh memories of Crimea when Russia created a media campaign that preceded the takeover.”

One one hand, the strategy for years has been to supply Ukraine with as much military artillery and training. “They’ve [even] been teaching Ukranians how to make IEDs,” detailed Dr. Nelson who also said they are also readying for biochemical warfare such as the poisoning of their water.

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On the other side of war plans, the U.S. has been actively firming up commitments for NATO allies. White House officials also informed the press that Vice President Harris will “continue to convey to the rest of the world . . . [an] ironclad commitment to our NATO Allies . . . [a] commitment to defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and [a] commitment to putting in place severe economic consequences should Russia invade,” while in Munich.

While the door remains open to diplomacy, the Biden-Harris Administration has been steadily rounding up support from NATO nation-states. This week, President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy about the possibility of economic sanctions against Russia, if they invade. Earlier this month, PM Draghi said there will be “serious consequences that a further escalation of the crisis would have,” after meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Brett McGurk, the coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to talk about potential market issues if a war occurs, as well as, “to ensure the United States is doing everything possible to support the territorial defense of both countries against Iranian-enabled missile and UAV attacks.” Also, there were talks around placing diplomatic and military pressure to urge the Houthis in Yemen to end war in the region.

Adding to U.S. maneuvering in the crisis, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Secretary General of Japan’s National Security Secretariat, Akiba Takeo regarding a coordinated response. Of which, Secretary General Takeo agreed that Japan would work with G-7 forces. 

| Watch: Ukraine-Russia tensions grow to high potential of war

Overall, the biggest concern is gas supplies. Russia provides 40 percent of natural gas to Europe. The heavy reliance has already resulted in a price hike right before the coldest winter months. 

Right now, Germany sits in a precarious seat. Receiving roughly 70 percent of its natural gas from Russia, they also constructed a major pipeline, Nord Stream 2, running from the former Soviet Union to Germany. Though inoperable at this time, it is in danger of complete cut off before it even starts, if a war ensues. While Germany has not given Ukraine weapons, they donated 5,000 helmets, a sign of neutrality that the Mayor of Kiev called “a joke.”

But Ukraine has already been cut out of Russia’ gas supplies. Relying on their German neighbors, an energy shortage will have economic ripple effects. In the meantime, Japan okayed a plan for them to divert some Liquefied Natural Gas supplies to Europe.

China, while a longtime ally of Russia, will not support the invasion, assessed Dr. Nelson. One of the reasons she cites is due to its economic vulnerability. “China bought everybody’s debt,” she explained. If currencies in those countries, including the U.S. weaken severely, then the Chinese Yuan will fall too.

At press time, AP News reported that Russia is carrying out nuclear drills while Ukrainian rebels have started to evacuate citizens.

Kaia Shivers covers news, features and the diaspora.

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