The meeting between President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington was reported worldwide. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin was also watching. The meeting at the White House and Zelensky’s speech to Congress happened as Kyiv warned that Russia plans to start a ground offensive again in the winter.
The trip’s goal was to help Ukraine get more help from the U.S. so it could stand up to Russia on the battlefield. Most people think the 10-month war will go on for a long time, with peace or a negotiated end coming up only as an afterthought. “As long as it takes,” Biden said, he would help Ukraine.
“Both of us want this war to be over… Biden said, “It could end today if Putin had any sense of honor and did the right thing and just left.” “That won’t happen, though.” And Zelensky told Putin that by standing next to Biden, he had gotten more military support to stop Moscow’s attacks on infrastructure with missiles and drones, which were meant to break the will of the Ukrainian people by cutting off their heat, water and electricity.
“You asked, ‘What will happen after Patriots are put in place?'” After that, we’ll send another message to President Biden that we want more Patriots,” Zelensky said in response to a question from a reporter. He was talking about the highly sought-after advanced aerial defense systems that the U.S. is giving to other countries.
Experts say that Zelensky’s visit was meant to strengthen Washington’s position as the world’s leader in defending against Russian aggression and make it easier for U.S. and Ukrainian officials to work closely together on the next phase of the fighting. “The White House wanted to show how tough it is, and [Zelensky’s] visit was meant to emphasize that,” said John Herbst, a former ambassador to Ukraine and the senior director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council.
William Taylor, vice president of the Russia and Europe program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said that Zelensky’s goals were probably to get ready for a new Ukrainian counteroffensive. “I think the Ukrainians would like to attack first and stop the Russians from going on the offensive,” he said.
“But then, the reason we need to be here is to argue for continued support, including this financial support,” said Taylor, who was also an ambassador to Ukraine. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion began on February 24, the U.S. has given Ukraine more than $20 billion in security aid.
This week, Congress put $45 billion in military assistance and other help for Ukraine into its spending plan for 2023. Zelensky said the war would end faster if the U.S. military had helped more.
“Your help is significant, not just to stay in these fights, but to get to the point where things start to change. In his speech to Congress, he said, “To win on the battlefield.” But Putin seems to be getting ready for a long fight. Putin said Wednesday at a press conference that sending the U.S. Patriot missile battery to Ukraine “extends the conflict.”
Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Maria Snegovaya said Russian officials shared this view. “The people in charge at the Kremlin are agitated. “They are saying this is another step up from the U.S.,” she said.
She said Russia’s envoy to the U.S. recently told Russian media that U.S. or NATO partners shouldn’t operate on the ground in Ukraine because of the Patriot Battery. This made her think Russian and international troops could run into each other.
“He is trying to say that the U.S. is intentionally making things worse or that the U.S. might not know what this will lead to. This tells me that the Kremlin is very upset about Ukraine getting Patriot missiles,” she said.
The Defense Ministry of the United Kingdom said that Putin had been shown plans by the Russian military to increase Russia’s fighting forces by about 30% to 1.5 million people. However, it is unclear how the Kremlin plans to carry out such a plan. In its assessment, the British Defense Ministry said, “This is one of the first glimpses into how Russia wants to adapt its forces to the long-term strategic challenges caused by its invasion of Ukraine.”
The Ukrainians think that Putin has prepared about 200,000 soldiers for a new offensive. This comes from a Russian order to mobilize 300,000 men in September, which was criticized as a chaotic effort that took men off the street and caused potential recruits to leave the country.
Putin has said in recent days that Russia’s efforts to take control of land it has claimed in Ukraine are “arduous.” He mostly calls Moscow’s military offensive a “special operation” instead of an invasion. And at a press conference on Wednesday, Putin said that the military is spending a “high” amount of money in Ukraine and that some things are missing, like “loitering munitions, drones, and the like, but we are working on that.”
Iran has given Russia hundreds of bomb-carrying drones, which the Kremlin has been using since October to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses. These drones have targeted the energy and electricity infrastructure of the country.
U.S. officials have warned that Iran’s help for the Russian military will likely grow in the coming months. This could include selling hundreds of ballistic missiles, though the National Security Council has said it hasn’t seen any such deliveries yet.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. has confirmed that North Korea has given infantry rockets and missiles to the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company with 50,000 people in Ukraine.
Kirby said that the Wagner Group has lost a lot of money and that the owner of the private militia, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is “willing just to throw Russian bodies into the meat grinder.” Herbst of the Atlantic Council said that the White House told them, “Prigozhin is trying to establish himself as the effective guy who can serve Putin and Russian interests, but we’re happy to report that he’s failing.”
In this situation, Putin has tried to show unity with his allies by going to Minsk to meet with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is under U.S. sanctions, and by sending former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now a member of the Russian security council, to Beijing to meet with his counterpart. A global fellow at the Kennan Institute named Yuval Weber said, “Both Russia and Ukraine want to show that they are not alone.”
Weber said, “Ukraine can call on the U.S. and its more than 60 allies and partners, who are giving Russia military equipment, financial support, and a sanctions regime.” “What does Russia get from Belarus? Nothing. China? “Nothing.”
Analysts say that China hasn’t helped Russia in its war in Ukraine so far because it doesn’t want to get in trouble with U.S. and Western sanctions on Russian banks or with bans on exports to Russia that could help its military industry.
And according to reports, China is taking advantage of the European Union and U.S. price cap on Russian oil, which is meant to make Putin’s war even more expensive and bankrupt, by negotiating for deeper discounts on Russian oil imports.
Weber said that because China isn’t helping, Russia is falling far behind what it thought it could do. He added that this is making the balance of power between Russia and Ukraine much more even than anyone thought it would be before the conflict. Still, Weber said there are no signs that Putin will stop the military offensive in Ukraine. “Putin is only interested in one policy: “victory at any cost.” “At ‘any cost,’ that will mean the deaths of a couple hundred thousand Russians,” he said.
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