As Biden officials Admit the Ukraine Is a Lost Cause, It’s Time for Ukraine to Accept the peace proposal Before It Loses Most of its Territories
Ukraine is living in cloud cuckoo land. It’s facing huge losses in terms of life, arms, and territory every day in its war against Russia. Now it’s strongest ally the White House officials are losing confidence. It says Ukraine will ever be able to take back all of the land it has lost to Russia over the past four months of war. According US officials, who spoke with CNN says, even with the heavier and more sophisticated weaponry the US and its allies plan to send.
Advisers to President Joe Biden have begun debating internally how and whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should shift his definition of a Ukrainian “victory” — adjusting for the possibility that his country has shrunk irreversibly.
US officials emphasized that this more pessimistic assessment does not mean the US plans to pressure Ukraine into making any formal territorial concessions to Russia in order to end the war. There is also hope that Ukrainian forces will be able to take back significant chunks of territory in a likely counteroffensive later this year.
Ukraine has formally asked the US for a minimum of 48 multiple launch rocket systems, but to date has only been promised eight from the Pentagon. In more than a hundred days of the war, it is on verge of turning into a land-locked country. As recent reportscome, Kyiv’s another 2000 soldiers including 80 foreign fighters have been surrounded near Hirske and Zolote, south of Lysychansk.
“If we don’t end war, war will end us.”
But Zelensky and his administration sit aloof from their army concerns. At this point in time, he should be reminded of writer H.G. Wells historical lines, “If we don’t end war, war will end us.”
A congressional aide familiar with the deliberations told CNN that a smaller Ukrainian state is not inevitable, the aide said:
“Whether Ukraine can take back these territories is in large part, if not entirely, a function of how much support we give them.”
And not everyone in the administration is as worried — some believe Ukrainian forces could again defy expectations, as they did in the early days of the war when they repelled a Russian advance on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. National security adviser Jake Sullivan has remained highly engaged with his Ukrainian counterparts and spent hours on the phone last week discussing Ukrainian efforts to recapture territory with Ukraine’s defense chief and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, officials familiar with the call told CNN.
The growing pessimism comes as Biden is meeting with US allies in Europe, where he will try to convey strength and optimism about the trajectory of the war as he rallies leaders to stay committed to arming and supporting Ukraine amid the brutal fight.
“We have to stay together. Putin has been counting on from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G7 would splinter, but we haven’t and we’re not going to,” Biden said Sunday while at the G7 summit in the Bavarian Alps.
The administration announced another $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine last week, including additional rocket launch systems, artillery ammunition and patrol boats. The US is also expected to announce as soon as this week that it has purchased an advanced surface-to-air missile defense system, called a NASAMS, for Ukrainian forces. Biden indicated in an op-ed earlier this month that he is committed to helping Ukraine gain the upper hand on the battlefield so that it has leverage in negotiations with Russia.
The mood has shifted over the last several weeks, though, as Ukraine has struggled to repel Russia’s advances in the Donbas and has suffered staggering troop losses, reaching as many as 100 soldiers per day. Ukrainian forces are also burning through their equipment and ammunition faster than the West can provide and train them on new, NATO-standard weapons systems.
A US military official and a source familiar with Western intelligence agreed it was unlikely that Ukraine would be able to mass the force necessary to reclaim all of the territory lost to Russia during the fighting — especially this year, as Zelensky said on Monday was his goal. A substantial counteroffensive might be possible with more weapons and training, the sources said, but Russia may also have an opportunity to replenish its force in that time, so there are no guarantees.
“Much hinges on whether Ukraine can retake territory at least to February 23 lines,” said Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at the Center for Naval Analyses. “The prospect is there, but it’s contingent. If Ukraine can get that far, then it can likely take the rest. But if it can’t, then it may have to reconsider how best to attain victory.“
Russian forces gaining ground
Russian forces now control more than half of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk region military administration, said Thursday. Ukrainian forces retreated from the key eastern city of Severodonetsk on Friday after weeks of bloody battle. Russian forces last week also captured ground around Lysychansk, the last city in the eastern Luhansk region still controlled by Ukraine. Ukrainian military commanders are now grappling with the reality that they may have to withdraw from the area to defend territory further west.
In the meantime, Russian oil revenues have only been going up as oil prices have skyrocketed, even amid the harsh sanctions imposed by the West. US officials said on Monday that the US and its allies are going to try capping the price of oil so Russia does not profit from it anymore, but how and when that cap will take effect remains to be seen.
Internally, there is a sense among some in the Biden administration that Zelensky will need to start moderating expectations for what Ukrainian forces can realistically achieve. Zelensky said late last month that he would;
“Consider it a victory for our state, as of today, to advance to the February 24 line without unnecessary losses.”
He reiterated that goal last week.
“We don’t have any other choice left but to move forward — move to liberate all of our territories,” he said in a Telegram post. “We need to kick the invaders out of the Ukrainian regions. Though the width of the frontlines is as long as over 2,5000 km, we feel that we hold the strategic initiative.”
The hunt for Soviet-era weaponry
As CNN has previously reported, Russia is looking in particular to exploit the gap between how much Soviet-style ammunition Ukraine and its allies have in their stockpiles, and how long it will take the west to provide Ukraine with modern, NATO-standard weapons and munitions that require time-consuming training.
A senior defense official acknowledged to CNN that the Soviet-era stocks are “dwindling,” but haven’t yet reached “rock bottom.” The official said that some eastern European countries still have more they could provide — but only if they continue to be backfilled by allies with more modern equipment.
The US and its allies, meanwhile, have been scrounging the world for the kind of Soviet-era ammunition that fits the equipment Ukraine already has, including 152 mm artillery ammunition. NATO-standard weapons fire larger, 155mm rounds. But another US defense official told CNN that effort is effectively reaching its end, with almost everything available that countries are willing to provide having already gone in.
Given the prodigious rate at which the Ukrainians have gone through their older ammunition in the bruising artillery fight in the Donbas, the official said, “Soviet-era weapons are being wiped off the earth.” CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis, Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
In mid-May, Italy proposed a four-point peace plan in its effort to put an end to the Ukraine war. Firstly, it called for cease-fire and demilitarization. It asked Ukraine and Russia to decide on the future of contentious territories. Moreover, it asked for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and removal of western sanctions on Moscow. It also asked Kyiv to declare itself as a ‘neutral’ country. The proposal was also supported by US as its ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “We encourage all efforts to achieve a peaceful solution for the Ukrainian people that is acceptable to them. And the Italian initiative is one of those initiatives that we certainly would love to see bring a conclusion to this horrific war and the horrific attacks on the Ukrainian people.”
However, Ukraine continued to ignore the peace proposed by Italy. Even American former diplomat Henry Kissinger tried to put some sense in Zelensky and his ilk. “Parties should be brought to peace talks within the next two months,” he said at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Rather it irked dim-witted Zelensky and in a video address he attacked the senior diplomat, “You get the impression that Mr. Kissinger doesn’t have 2022 on his calendar, but 1938, and that he thinks he is talking to an audience not in Davos but in Munich back then.”
Then, there was a report by CNN that detailed how Western allies like US officials were meeting with their British and European counterparts to discuss possible plans for a cease-fire and a diplomatic solution to end the Ukraine War. Even when Macron asked not to ‘humiliate’ Russia as that wouldn’t help in post-war diplomatic efforts, it saw a hostile reaction from the Ukrainian side.
And just recently in an interview with a Spanish newspaper NATO chief has implied again, “Most likely, Ukraine war will end at the negotiating table.” These are just a few instances when so many leaders have tried to persuade Ukraine of considering negotiations.
Ukraine has ignored all these suggestions and ridiculed people suggesting the same. Ukraine plans to prolong the war till the end of the year. Ukraine’s head of intelligence Kirill Budanov has even asserted to take Crimea. It doesn’t seem like a feasible approach against the world’s second-largest army unless NATO helps it. But NATO has already askedUkraine to surrender.
Negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv haven’t taken place since March. Since then, Kyiv has insisted that discussions won’t begin until it is in a “stronger bargaining position,” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that talks won’t resume until Kyiv reclaims territory it lost after February 24. Ukraine’s chief negotiator has also hintedthat Ukraine will go for negotiations after its counter-offensive in August when they’ll try to regain the lost territories.
It’s surprising how disillusioned Zelensky and his regime have been so far. Though at times we have heard sanity coming from the comedian turned politician too. In an interview with Ukrainian journalists on National TV in May, he had said, “All of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge. First of all, one’s own, human challenge. Then, when you pull yourself together, and you have to do it, I think that we have no other choice.”
Well, somewhere Zelensky has known all this while how the war will come to end. But he has been too arrogant and inconsiderate to accept the losses they have suffered. Late Columbian novelist Gabriel García Márquez word holds true for Ukraine and Zelensky, “It is easier to start a war than to end it.”
Russia which has been tired of this spectacle has now put its own conditions for negotiations. He even attacked Britain and America who have been giving weapons to Ukraine and lengthening the war.
In an interview with Belarusian state TV, Russia’s Foreign Minister said, “When [Ukraine] deigns to turn to us with a proposal to resume the diplomatic process, which, as I understand it, the Europeans are urgently asking them to do, but the Anglo-Saxons do not allow this, we will look at the situation on the ground.”
The statement is significant as it reiterates Russia’s objectives in Ukraine and it wouldn’t like to give up its advantageous positions on the ground. It would even want to reclaim more of Ukraine’s territory. Only a week back, deputy chair of Russia’s National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that Ukraine wouldn’t survive to pay back its debts.
“Who said that in two years Ukraine would still be on the world map?”
These recent statements by two senior Russian officials insinuate that it might be too late for Ukraine to ask for negotiations. It pushed Russia to the wall when it provoked it by wanting to join NATO. Now, it’ll be up to Putin, what they make of negotiations and Ukraine.
Source CNN AND TFI Global