The GUARD Act can either be a game-changer for US-Russian relations in the worst way possible or end up in hindsight as the last hurrah of a desperate ‘deep state’ faction prior to its political neutralization.
Some Republication Senators introduced the so-called “Guardian Ukraine’s Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense” (GUARD) Act last week. This proposed piece of legislation would bolster American military support to the Eastern European country, sanction Nord Stream II, and designate Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism” if the US government determines that the Kremlin acted aggressively towards Ukraine. This is a hostile move that represents a desperate push by the anti-Russian faction of the US’ military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) to sabotage the Biden Administration’s efforts to reach a so-called “non-aggression pact” with Russia through the latter’s recent “security equation” proposal.
The context is that the predominant anti-Chinese “deep state” faction, whose rise to power at the expense of its anti-Russian competitors is perhaps former US President Trump’s most enduring legacy, wants to reach a series of pragmatic compromises with Moscow that would enable the Pentagon to redeploy some of their European-based forces to the Asia-Pacific in order to more aggressively “contain” China. The anti-Russian one is trying to stop this from happening for ideological reasons by leveraging all their domestic and international influence (the latter through their embedded networks in the Baltic States, Poland, and Ukraine) to provoke an East-West crisis that would immediately put a stop to that scenario. It’s therefore imperative for the Biden Administration to ensure that they don’t succeed.
What’s so curious about this latest development though is that it’s being led by Republicans who observers might have assumed would have actually been part of the predominant anti-Chinese “deep state” faction and not the anti-Russian one that’s hitherto mostly been comprised of the Democrats and their allies. This suggests that the GUARD Act’s sponsors might simply be political opportunists and just want to grandstand before the electorate by showing that they’ll oppose the Biden Administration on all issues out of principle ahead of next year’s midterm elections. It might also, however, hint that certain influential individuals are switching sides in this intra-“deep state” competition for whatever their reasons may be, which could in turn shift the balance of influence and power between them.
Whatever the case may be, this latest move indisputably signals an effort by the anti-Russian “deep state” faction to pressure the Biden Administration into abandoning its “non-aggression pact” plans with the Kremlin. This legislation’s possible passage, as unlikely as it may be in reality, would instantly end the anti-Chinese faction’s pragmatic outreaches with Russia. There wouldn’t be any hope for bilateral relations if Russia has to worry about the Damocles sword of being designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” hanging over its head to be arbitrarily dropped at any time. The resultant sanctions threats would send a provocative signal of American intent that would in turn prompt Russia to proactively create the “counterthreats” that it proposed in the event that bilateral security talks fail.
Altogether, the GUARD Act can either be a game-changer for US-Russian relations in the worst way possible or end up in hindsight as the last hurrah of a desperate “deep state” faction prior to its political neutralization. The very fact that it’s been tabled in the first place speaks to both the existence and severity of the US’ “deep state” struggle between its anti-Russian and anti-Chinese factions. The Biden Administration mustn’t waver in the face of these threats and should remain solidly committed to doing what’s needed in order to bring its ambitious security vision about. The undeclared US-provoked missile crisis in Europe can only be stopped by that country agreeing to Russia’s “security equation” proposal and finally respecting the red lines that President Putin explicitly declared earlier this month.