Authorities claim the US and its supporters are preparing for a lengthy war in Ukraine, as the Biden government tries to deny Russia victory by increasing military aid to Kyiv while rushing to alleviate the war’s destabilizing impact on world hunger and the world economy.
President Biden’s declaration this week of an extra $1 billion in security aid for Ukraine, the largest single batch of US aid to the country to date, demonstrated Washington’s commitment to ensuring Ukraine’s survival in the eastern Donbas region. Germany and Slovakia, for example, revealed their own shipments of modern weapons, including aircraft and multiple-launch missile systems.
After gathering dozens of countries in Brussels to offer increased support for Kyiv, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated, “We’re here just to dig in our spurs.”
The choice to give Ukraine extremely complex weapons like anti-ship missiles and long-range mobile artillery capable of defeating substantial military assets or hitting deep into Russia demonstrates a growing readiness in Western capitals to risk accidental confrontation with Russia.
The backing seems to have encouraged President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, which pledged this week to reclaim all of Russian-controlled Ukraine, including areas acquired by Moscow long before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s incursion on February 24.
With the influx of foreign funding and good morale amongst Ukrainian forces, observers say Kyiv and its supporters can only hope for a standoff with Russia’s vastly larger and better-armed military.
Unlike Moscow’s failed attempt to annex Kyiv, the Donbas conflict has worked to Russia’s military strengths, enabling it to pound Ukrainian positions with standoff artillery fire and progressively reach a larger.
The field of battle impasse, according to Ivo Daalder, a former US envoy to NATO who already heads the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, leaves the US with a difficult choice: either keep helping Ukraine maintain a possibly bloody status quo, with the disastrous global implications that entail, or stop supporting Ukraine and allow Moscow to triumph.
“That would have been feeding the wolves in Ukraine,” Daalder remarked, referring to a pullout of help. “And no one is willing to do it.”
Biden federal authorities had addressed the likelihood of a protracted battle with global spillovers even before February, according to a senior State Department source who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss current international negotiations.
According to the person, the Biden government believes that the additional armament, together with consecutive waves of sanctions and Russia’s diplomatic isolation, could make a significant difference in a future negotiated end to the war, possibly reducing Putin’s willingness to continue fighting.
Already, the war has thrown the financial system into a new crisis, aggravating the impacts of the coronavirus epidemic. The world economy is now set to endure years of sluggish growth. According to the World Food Program, the war has exacerbated a global food crisis by driving up the cost of basic products and crippling Ukraine’s wheat exports, which ordinarily feed millions of individuals each year. As a result, some 44 million people are on the verge of hunger.
“While navigating these thunderstorm waters is demanding — we’re not beating around the bush that — our guiding light is that the result of Russia being capable of achieving its absolutist requirements is really terrible for the US, really bad for our allies and partners, and really terrible for the global community,” the State Department official said.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk, a crucial city in the Luhansk region that Pentagon officials predict to fall short, tried to defend decreasing areas under their authority.
A US defense official confirmed on Friday that a US-made Harpoon anti-ship missile had damaged a Russian tugboat in the Black Sea, demonstrating how Western armament has the potential to drag the West deeper into the conflict. The US will equip Ukraine with mobile Harpoon launchers for the first time as part of Biden’s latest weaponry deal.
On Friday, the European Commission recommended that Ukraine be designated as an official applicant for European Union membership, bringing Ukrainian officials’ long-held dream closer to reality. Even if participation may be years away, Zelensky praised what he called a “historic move.”
“Ukrainians are willing to die for the European viewpoint,” stated Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. “We want them all to share the European dream with us.”
In a lecture on Friday, Putin lashed out at the West, saying he had nothing to do with Ukraine joining the Union, but also alerted that “all the duties of the special operation,” as the Kremlin refers to the invasion, would be met, and that his country could use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty was threatened.
NATO leaders are poised to disclose major deployments to Eastern Europe at a late-June conference in Madrid, underscoring what Western nations say is a dramatically transformed security stance.
The likelihood of a diplomatic settlement appears remote, with Putin remaining unfazed. Analysts believe Putin is pursuing a strategy of taking the entire Donbas territory and then offering a cease-fire that would effectively freeze Russia’s authority over that and other territories.
“My fear is that, on the one side, Russia is pursuing mutually incompatible aims, yet on the other hand, the Ukrainians and their partners are seeking mutually contradictory goals,” Samuel Charap, a Russia expert at the RAND Corporation, said. “As a result, the Russians will continue to press harder and harder, while we will continue to provide more and more.”
Many experts believe the war will settle into a lesser struggle or a situation similar to the Korean Peninsula, where fighting between the north and south was halted in a 1953 ceasefire without an official conclusion to the war.
Between the two Koreas, a highly militarized border formed, with occasional flare-ups, and this is a situation that some observers believe could happen between Ukraine and the sections of its territory controlled by Moscow.
In an email, James Stavridis, a former Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO said, “I don’t think either Putin or Zelensky can remain at the present level of warfare for years.” “Perhaps for a few months, but not for years.”
As the fight drags on, questions about what trade-offs the US might have to make in its bigger foreign policy aims or its vast military budget are being raised. Inflation and the situation in Ukraine prompted the Senate Armed Services Committee to add $45 billion to the defense budget on Thursday, increasing the likely bill to $847 billion for the next fiscal year.
The battle also continues to chew up the bandwidth of senior US officials that should be focused on long-term planning and upgrading, according to Stacie Pettyjohn, head of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. Authorities have previously cited events such as the multi-year war against the Islamic State as reasons for delaying a scheduled deployment to focus on China.
“They continue having to deal with Ukraine so because the issue is growing and it is urgent,” she added. “We need to provide whatever assistance we can and figure out how to support the Ukrainians.”
“However, this means they don’t have the time and attention to the sort of forge ahead on those other problems that are actually critical, and those long-term adjustments that are required if the United States is truly going to shift its attention and emphasis to the Pacific.”
The Biden government has stated that it will not exert pressure on Kyiv to accept concessions in order to end the conflict.
. Officials warn that if Zelensky accepts Moscow’s proposals, even if he is willing to give up significant swaths of Ukraine’s land, he may face a popular uprising in Ukraine.
At a think tank conference on Thursday, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said, “Our role is not to establish those terms.” “Our responsibility is to provide them with the resources they need to put themselves in the best possible position.”