May 29, 2022

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Analysis: Putin’s brutality exacerbates Biden’s historic dilemma

Analysis: Putin's brutality exacerbates Biden's historic dilemma
Since Russia launched its offensive last month, Biden has sought to punish and impeach President Vladimir Putin and to mitigate the slaughter of civilians by providing defensive weapons to the Kyiv government. But he also calibrated his actions to avoid being drawn into a dangerous direct conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia while rehearsing his delicate political situation at home.
Political heat on the president after Unusual unit period In Washington, it’s about to rise, too. This would be especially the case, if, as it seems increasingly likely, the rest of the world had to witness the inhumane Russian siege and bombardment of Kyiv.

In a big moment in Washington on Wednesday, Zelensky will give a virtual address to Congress. If his last speech to the British Parliament, which drew comparisons to Churchill, was evidence, it would be a fiery and inspiring cry for lawmakers. If Ukraine’s president makes final pleas for fighter jets and a no-fly zone over his country, which Biden has silenced on the grounds that it could spark a war with Moscow, he will put intense domestic pressure on the president.

Biden’s problem is that after unleashed A complete economic war In terms of Russia imposing very severe sanctions, there are now limits to the steps he can take to significantly increase pressure on Putin without risking direct military or electronic conflict. Some of the president’s critics in Congress and in parts of the foreign policy establishment, including within his own party, argue that he has been too cautious.
But one lawmaker accusing Biden of bowing to Putin’s threats is one thing. The president has deep responsibilities in such a situation and cannot risk miscalculation. The White House has been very careful not to push a vengeful and increasingly reckless Putin into a corner. She, for example, did not reciprocate his order last month for He put his nuclear forces on high alert, The Russian leader’s atomic poker was interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the West. Along the same lines, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday declined to describe the matter Russian air raid on a Ukrainian base Near the Polish border as a new stage of the conflict could threaten the territory of NATO. The administration is intent on avoiding giving Putin an excuse to spill the conflict across Ukraine’s borders.
But Biden remains the commander-in-chief of the armed forces since the 1980s who must contend with the real possibility of an escalatory cycle with Moscow that could risk nuclear war. He should also consider how he would respond if a Russian missile veered into NATO territory in Eastern Europe – a scenario that, in theory at least, could lead to an outbreak of the alliance. Article 5: The collective defense condition.

Biden, who came to Washington as a young senator at the height of the standoff with the Soviet Union, now faces the same single burden as Cold War chiefs – the fate of the world may rest on his shoulders. And the situation may be fraught with more uncertainty than in the long decades of Soviet-American confrontation. The doctrine of mutual assured destruction, which supports the idea of ​​nuclear deterrence, which remained prevalent throughout the Cold War. The question now is whether Putin, humiliated and his political survival at stake, will keep the same red lines as his communist predecessors.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that “the once unimaginable possibility of nuclear conflict is now back in the realm of possibility,” referring to Putin’s raising of his country’s nuclear alert status as “chilling.”

Senior US official speaking after Intensive talks with China On Monday, focused in part on Ukraine, he put it this way: “There is a lot of attraction at this moment.” No wonder, as CNN’s Kevin Liptak reported earlier this month, senior officials believe the Ukraine crisis will largely define Biden’s tenure. Sources also said, Monday, that the president is considering a visit to Europe – a trip to boost NATO morale, which would instantly become the most important transatlantic trip by any US president in decades. NATO leaders may meet in person in Brussels as soon as next week, a diplomatic source familiar with the planning told CNN reporter Caitlan Collins on Monday evening.

Diplomacy has failed so far

If the strategic stakes are not high enough, the great significance of the president’s next moves is compounded by the failure of international diplomatic efforts to get Putin to compromise, and the Russian-Ukrainian talks that yielded no breakthroughs.

The Russian president has turned his country into a pariah state economically, diplomatically, culturally and athletically. Russia He was embarrassed by the slow progress of his forces, after earlier predictions of a blitzkrieg and heroic resistance to the Ukrainians. But everything the world has learned during Putin’s two-decade rule about himself and his track record suggests that his instinct will be to escalate the war. A weekend of ferocious attacks on civilian targets such as apartment buildings and bombings and sieges on many cities suggests that this is already happening.

“If Ukraine does not bend its knees to Russia, he will make sure that Ukraine will be a wasteland,” Heather Conley, president of the German Marshall Fund, said on CNN’s Inside Politics on Monday.

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Retired Brigadier General. General Mark Kimmitt said on CNN’s “Newsroom” program Monday that Putin’s tactics, which have already brought charges of war crimes, are about to become more extreme.

“Now that they realize that this is heavy work, they are doing what they have always done in history, which is a slow bulldozer-like cart that pushes everything out of their way or under them. They will begin the siege of Kyiv very soon, and I think we will see the implementation of this strategy.”

In Putin's view of the world, a medieval narrative pops up
Pictures from a besieged coastal city Mariupoldevastated by Russian bombing and where there is little heat, electricity or food and water, and from villages outside Kyiv offer a frightening vision of what might lie in the capital.

The spectacle of a prolonged Russian siege of Kyiv, with so many civilian casualties and unfathomable destruction, would leave Biden open to accusations that he did not intervene to prevent genocide or war crimes. It would place exceptional global and domestic political pressure on the president to overcome his reticence to use measures that would risk direct conflict between the United States and Russia.

Biden, who came to power emphasizing his sympathies and empathy in the midst of the pandemic, may finally be the president on the other end of the phone line, and he must explain to Zelensky why the West can’t do more to save Ukraine.

A new batch in Congress for aircraft for Ukraine

Evidence that the Battle of Kyiv may be looming added new urgency on Monday In the US Congress, Biden calls for more effortAs it turns out, Zelensky will speak at a joint session via video link on Wednesday. The Ukrainian president’s courage helped inspire the Western world to unite and punish Putin in much stronger terms than many expected. NATO is again killing Russian soldiers after waging a proxy war in Ukraine by providing anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. So far, these measures have not prompted Putin to turn directly against the West, although Russia has warned that it considers such shipments to be legitimate targets.
This encouraged Biden’s critics in Congress to warn about it Washington’s opposition to Poland’s offer Sending Soviet-era planes to Ukraine amounts to the United States acquiescing in a Russian ploy. Only a few members of Congress have called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, underscoring their reluctance to send US service members into danger and into a troubling confrontation with Russia. But Senate Republican whip John Thune said on Monday there was broad bipartisan support for including a provision approving the deployment of military aircraft to Ukraine in a bill targeting Russian energy imports and its commercial status.
Russia's attack on Poland's border shattered picture of calm in western Ukraine

“I know the administration has its position on that. But there will be a lot of bipartisan support for the planes,” Thun of South Dakota told reporters on Monday.

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Nevada Democratic Senator Jackie Rosen, a member of the Armed Services Committee, called on the administration to help Ukraine get more warplanes.

“The president is still fighting back,” Rosen told CNN reporter Jake Tapper on Monday, referring to the Polish aircraft plan. “I think they continue to work with our NATO allies to try to find a back channel without provoking World War III.”

Her comment summed up the dilemma Biden faces in walking a path through the conflict that does everything the United States and its allies can do to stave off humanitarian anger while containing the war in Ukraine. But the crisis is approaching a point where doing both becomes increasingly difficult.