Biden Prepares To Give Up on Ukraine

The much ballyhooed Ukrainian ‘counteroffensive’ is destined to fail its purpose of severing Russia’s supply line to Crimea and to liberate ‘occupied territory’. The Biden administration has finally recognized this and is out to lower expectations and to preemptively blame everyone but itself.

The first to be briefed was Politico:

Biden’s team fears the aftermath of a failed Ukrainian counteroffensive
Behind closed doors, the administration worries about what Ukraine can accomplish.

The New York Times joined in:

Ukraine’s Spring Offensive Comes With Immense Stakes for Future of the War
Without a decisive victory, Western support for Ukraine could weaken, and Kyiv could come under increasing pressure to enter serious peace talks to end or freeze the conflict.

From the Politico piece:

Publicly, President Joe Biden’s team has offered unwavering support for Ukraine, pledging to load it up with weapons and economic aid for “as long as it takes.” But, if the impending fighting season yields limited gains, administration officials have expressed privately they fear being faced with a two-headed monster attacking it from the hawkish and dovish ends of the spectrum.

One side will say that Ukraine’s advances would’ve worked had the administration given Kyiv everything it asked for, namely longer-range missiles, fighter jets and more air defenses. The other side, administration officials worry, will claim Ukraine’s shortcoming proves it can’t force Russia out of its territory completely.

That doesn’t even account for the reaction of America’s allies, mainly in Europe, who may see a peace negotiation between Ukraine and Russia as a more attractive option if Kyiv can’t prove victory is around the corner.

The Times offers less drama:

While Ukrainian officials have said their goal is to break through dug-in Russian defenses and create a widespread collapse in Russia’s army, American officials have assessed that it is unlikely the offensive will result in a dramatic shift in momentum in Ukraine’s favor.

Ukraine’s military faces many challenges — one reason that a stalemate remains the most likely outcome. Fighting in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine this winter has drained ammunition reserves and led to heavy casualties in some experienced units.

Back to Politico which draws the bigger picture. If Ukraine proves incapable of doing what the Pentagon had planned for it it will be pushed into a ‘ceasefire’ which is hoped to become a permanent solution. The Biden administration will then leave the Ukraine issue behind and fixate on its next big target  –  China:

Biden and his top aides have publicly stressed that Zelenskyy should only begin peace talks when he is ready. But Washington has also communicated to Kyiv some political realities: at some point, especially with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, the pace of U.S. aid will likely slow. Officials in Washington, though not pressing Kyiv, have begun preparing for what those conversations could look like and understand it may be a tough political sell at home for Zelenskyy.

“If Ukraine can’t gain dramatically on the battlefield, the question inevitably arises as to whether it is time for a negotiated stop to the fighting,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s expensive, we’re running low on munitions, we’ve got other contingencies around the world to prepare for.”

“It’s legitimate to ask all these questions without compromising Ukraine’s goals. It’s simply a question of means,” Haass said.

Neither Ukraine nor the supporting NATO countries have the means to extend the war. The original, archived Politico piece read:

The fighting has taken a toll on the Ukrainians as well. Fourteen months into the conflict, the Ukrainians have suffered staggering losses — around 100,000 dead — with many of their top soldiers either sidelined or exhausted. The troops have also gone through historic amounts of ammunition and weaponry, with even the West’s prodigious output unable to match Zelenskyy’s urgent requests.

The corrected later version replaced ‘dead’ with ‘casualties’. While the first version was a nearly correct but too low count the new version is far off the mark. The total casualties are a multiple of 100,000.

Still – the Biden crew knows that the end is coming:

U.S. officials have also briefed Ukraine on the dangers of overextending its ambitions and spreading its troops too thin — the same warning Biden gave then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as the Taliban moved to sweep across the country during the U.S. military withdrawal in 2021.

Zelensky has, like Ashraf Ghani, made enough money from the war and is expected to silently move out. But for now it seems unlikely that he is willing to do so.

The alternative to giving up is for the U.S. to escalate again by putting boots on the ground. But Biden wants to win his reelection fight and any further escalation of the war in Ukraine would likely prevent that.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.