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Early 2022: Decisive Days for the World

Early 2022: Decisive Days for the World

Al-Ittihad, UAE, January 5

The next week will usher in fateful negotiations that could determine the entire direction in which US-Russia relations will head. These negotiations may very well be the last chance to resolve the deepening crisis between the two countries, which has been the most acute and severe one between the two nations since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. That crisis put both America and the former Soviet Union on the precipice of a nuclear war. The fear is that the current crisis, surrounding Russia’s intrusion into Ukraine, could lead to similarly dire consequences for both sides: America (and NATO) on one hand, and Russia on the other. However, there is evidence that both sides are aware of these dangerous consequences and are investing serious efforts into preventing the crisis from further escalating. The recent phone call between Presidents Biden and Putin is a reassuring sign. Following the bilateral negotiations, Russia will also hold talks with NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Russia pre-empted these negotiations, and in mid-December presented two proposals for agreements, one to the United States and the other to NATO. The content of these two proposals has not yet been published, but it likely entails demands from NATO to cease its eastward expansion and rescind its decision to add Ukraine and Georgia – two former Soviet countries – to its ranks. Despite conflicting stances within the current administration, it seems as if President Biden is willing to accept at least some of these demands, but at the same time, wants to see faith-building gestures from Putin, especially a commitment to end all interference with its European neighbors. Nevertheless, the willingness of both parties to accept part of the other party’s proposals may be the basis on which a historic compromise can be achieved. This is the best-case scenario on the eve of a crucial agreement. What is important is to seek to avoid the worst-case scenario, which could take the world to the brink of a dangerous abyss. –Waheed Abdul Majeed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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