June 3 marks 100 days of Russia's full-scale war in Ukraine. The rhetoric of the West during these 100 days, on the one hand, has changed from "Kyiv will fall in three days" to "we will move heaven and earth for Ukraine’s victory."
On the other hand, Russian narratives continue to seep into it about Europe and the United States being war-weary, why Ukrainians can’t sacrifice anything and negotiate with Vladimir Putin, and how very rapid arming of Ukraine can still provoke a nuclear war.
, of course, has already written about why the West is no longer building a golden ladder for Putin, that is, it is not trying to sell him a part of Ukrainian sovereignty and lands as something that he will pass off as a victory for his "population", but some kind of ladder is all still being built — now, perhaps, an icy one in the hope that sooner or later it will melt.
Biden: NATO does not seek war with Russia
Interesting is the latest publication personally from the U.S. President Joe Biden, who wrote what the U.S. would do and would not do in Ukraine in a guest essay for The New York Times.
The key points of his message are as follows:
- America's goal is to see a democratic, independent, sovereign, and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.
- To end the war with diplomacy, Kyiv must get enough weapons to secure the strongest position at the negotiating table with the terrorist country.
- The U.S. will provide Kyiv with more advanced rocket systems and munitions and send billions in financial aid, a package that the U.S. Congress approved on May 19 and Biden signed on May 21;
- The United States will work with allies to address the food crisis and help them reduce dependence on fossil fuels from Russia;
- The eastern flank of NATO will be reinforced, the U.S. welcomes the applications of Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance;
- The U.S. does not seek war between NATO and Russia, so it does not send American soldiers to fight in Ukraine;
- The U.S. does not encourage or allow Ukraine to strike at Russia;
- The U.S. doesn't want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia;
- The Americans will not pressure the Ukrainian government, either privately or publicly, to force Kyiv to surrender its territories;
- The U.S. currently see no indication that Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, although the Kremlin's rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible;
- The United States will stay the course with the Ukrainian people, and if Putin expects that the unity of the United States will waver or that they will even fracture, he is deeply mistaken.
Here it must be understood that Biden assured that Ukraine would not get missiles it could strike Russian territory with. Indeed, we will get 4 HIMARS systems and 48 missiles for them, which could turn the tide of the war for Donbas and the South, but this is hardly enough to strike Russian weapons or fuel depots.
Although, in his opinion, it is strikes against Russia that could lead to an escalation and prolongation of the war, the slow receipt of serious weapons against Russian missiles and artillery is also prolonging it. Just so far only for Ukraine.
Putin's threat and EU's iron fist
In another op-ed for the NYT, military columnist Thomas Friedman writes about what a revelation for him was his stay in Europe, and although he has been writing about the invasion of Ukraine since February 24, it was only on the continent that he realized that Vladimir Putin was threatening not only Kyiv.
The thesis of his message from Berlin boils down to the following:
- The notion that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine is wrong — he invaded Europe;
- It was easy to assume that Europe would reconcile itself to the full-scale invasion in the same way that it reconciled with the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of part of Donbas, but this did not happen;
- The latest invasion on 24 February is increasingly seen as a 21st-century rerun of Hitler's onslaught against Poland in September 1939;
- The EU threw off years of baby-step sanctions and moved on to launching a "precision missile" at the center of Putin's economy;
- What happened in the EU due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine has become a "European earthquake".
Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, adds to this metaphor as follows:
"An awakening — boom! — and then everything changed."
The status quo ante will not come back, he assures: the huge changes in Europe in response to Russia were not based on American pressure, but because of a different perception of the Russian threat:
"We understand that Putin is not talking about Ukraine alone, but about all of us and our way of freedom."
- There has been a complete loss of trust with Putin, which is not surprising given the atrocities of Russian soldiers;
"We had 419 peaceful citizens murdered in multiple ways. We had no military infrastructure in our town. People were defenseless. The Russian soldiers stole, they raped and they drank. I am really surprised that this is happening in the 21st century," Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, says.
- While the U.S. seems to be coming apart, the 27 members of the EU have stunned everyone, and most of all themselves, by coming together to stymie Putin's invasion;
You could almost feel E.U. officials saying: "Wow, did we make that fist? Is that our fist?" the author of the column writes, recalling six packages of sanctions and assistance to Ukrainian refugees.
- Putin believed that the EU would quickly splinter under his pressure, but Europe was much more united than before the invasion of Ukraine;
- The Kremlin leader thought that Germany was in his pocket — bought and paid for with cheap gas, but he miscalculated here as well;
- It is unlikely that the West could return to any normalcy with Russia without changing the regime in the Kremlin, although it does not call for its overthrow.
War weariness: How long will the West hold out?
Another article, this time from the BBC, analyzes the cracks that have begun to appear in Western support for Ukraine. However, if we dig deeper into all 100 days of the invasion, it is obvious that they have been there all the time.
The article can be can be summarized as follows:
- despite UK’s, Poland’s, and the Baltics’’ calls for an unambiguous defeat for Putin, the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy are calling for a different, more compromise approach;
- examples of statements for a compromise are Emmanuel Macron's call for a ceasefire and Mario Draghi's words that people in Europe expect a ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow;
- another example is the 80-minute conversation held between Olaf Scholz, Macron, and Putin about grain exports from Ukraine, a conversation that in Latvia was called "self-humiliation" and total detachment from political reality;
- Joe Biden, although hinting at the need for the fall of the Kremlin’s regime, did not provide Ukraine with missiles that could strike into Russia’s territory;
- the struggle for the oil embargo has dragged on — although it ended in a compromise on a partial ban on oil imports, the package is still blocked by new remarks from Hungary;
- the gas embargo will be thrown out of the seventh package of sanctions against the Russian Federation, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said;
- The West promised a lot of weapons to Ukraine, but again places limits on Kyiv’s military efforts, while Russia observes no limits at all;
- Russia's gradual, albeit slow, progress on the battlefield is coupled with Putin's belief that sooner or later Europe will tire of helping;
- If the Russians break through Ukrainian lines and start heading for the Dnieper River, the issue of surrendering part of the territories to Ukraine, especially Crimea and Donbas, will again be on the agenda.
Conclusions for Ukraine: Fighting to the end
In fact, the conclusions about controversial Western moves and statements of support for Ukraine are not new: as long as Europe and the United States see Kyiv’s successes at the front, they will continue, albeit slowly, to increase weapon supplies in the hope of depleting Russia enough for negotiations.
At the same time, the West is not ready for a sharp armament of Ukraine, so as not to provoke a major war, considering the prompt victory of Kyiv and its territorial integrity less important than the risks of a World War III.
All this, unfortunately, plays into the hands of Vladimir Putin, who is waiting for Europe to tire and start putting pressure on Ukraine again, pushing it to surrender part of the lands in exchange for a shaky and really unstable peace — both for Kyiv and for Brussels.
However, this does not change the situation critically — we must fight with all available means, and fight in such a way as to continue to surprise our Western partners with results. Unfortunately, the price of such a victory will be very painful and bloody.