WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States believes Russia is digging in for a protracted war, and Washington desires to help Kyiv resist, however an overarching objective stays – limiting the battle to Ukraine to keep away from spillover that might provoke “World War III”.
The US navy institution is strolling a tightrope because it seeks to steadiness such calls for and keep away from nuclear escalation, based on public statements by American leaders and AFP interviews with a number of officers who spoke on situation of anonymity to debate the delicate situation.
The battle “may not be over soon”, warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken throughout his newest go to to Europe.
US intelligence sources initially feared a lightning assault that might see Kyiv fall inside days. But the Pentagon quickly realised Russia’s military was “behind” in its battle plan, attributable to logistical issues and Ukraine’s fierce resistance.
The US navy assumes, nevertheless pessimistically for Washington, that Russia’s huge and superior navy capability may finally overwhelm Kyiv.
As one senior US defence official put it: “I just don’t think we should underestimate” Moscow’s “firepower”.
Putin ‘destined to lose’
The struggling, Blinken cautioned, “is likely to get worse before it gets better”. But Russian President Vladimir Putin “is destined to lose”, he insisted.
In non-public, US officers go additional, not hesitating to claim the Russian chief has already misplaced. And they’re adapting their technique accordingly.
Their first precedence is to maintain offering main help to Ukraine’s resistance so it may possibly maintain on, even when some cities start to fall.
The Americans have put in place “robust information and intelligence sharing with Ukraine”, one diplomat defined, particularly to allow anti-aircraft defences to thwart a few of Russia’s assaults.
An unprecedented US$350 million (S$477 million) in emergency navy help introduced in late February has already been delivered to Ukrainian forces in the type of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and transportable Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Washington plans to launch an enormous US$10 billion package deal together with financial and humanitarian help, together with extra weaponry and ammunition.
There is “no limit” to navy help, one senior US official confused, as long as it doesn’t contain offensive heavy weapons.
Americans’ nice worry is that Putin, ought to he really feel provoked, will lengthen the battle past Ukraine, risking a direct – and probably nuclear – confrontation with the United States and its Nato allies.
Therefore, the must “contain the president of Russia” turns into a main directive, mentioned one US official.
Preventing a broadening of the war is a crimson line that was bluntly summarised by one other official: “We don’t want World War III.”
Even earlier than Russia’s invasion, President Joe Biden – acutely conscious of the menace of a nuclear face-off – warned that any direct US involvement in Ukraine would provoke a “world war”. He has given directives to keep away from such a spiral, by limiting the capability of American intervention.
Washington is due to this fact emphasising the preventive and deterrent deployments of troopers in allied nations which can be on Russia’s doorstep, which have been visited by Blinken and US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley.
But any choice that could possibly be interpreted by Putin as a serious escalation has been dominated out, to keep away from Moscow branding any Nato nation a “co-belligerent” of Ukraine.
Should the Russians assault forces of a single Nato nation, all different members of the transatlantic alliance, together with the United States, can be obligated to come back to its help militarily underneath Article 5 of the treaty that unites them, and which Biden has pledged to respect.
Establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, sought by its President Volodymyr Zelensky, has been rejected by Washington and Nato.
The motive: Nato planes must be ready to shoot down Russian fighters, and “that could lead to a full-fledged war”, Blinken mentioned.
Putin, for his half, has threatened “colossal and catastrophic consequences” for Europe and the wider world if a no-fly zone is carried out.
Given such tensions, Washington has blown cold and hot on the attainable supply to Kyiv, through nations like Poland, of Soviet-made fighter jets on which Ukrainian pilots have skilled.
Biden’s administration, at first reluctant to say the prospect, finally admitted it was “actively” learning the plan. But it has supplied no agency dedication, or a timetable.
Some in Washington fear such a gesture can be sufficient to deliver US confrontation with Moscow to a head, without even considerably altering the steadiness of energy in Ukraine’s skies.
While requires extra forceful Western intervention develop, US leaders stay dedicated to the delicate balancing act.
They hope ramping up stress on the Kremlin with sanctions will finally trigger Putin to conclude that prosecuting his war is extra pricey than withdrawing.
But this may require retaining diplomatic channels open to supply him “off-ramps”. Having ceased all high-level contact with the Russians since Feb 24, the Americans are encouraging others to speak to Putin.
A weekend mediation tried by Israel was seen on this mild.
Similarly, Blinken’s telephone name to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at a time when Beijing boasts of its “rock-solid” friendship with Moscow, didn’t exclude the chance of China enjoying an middleman position.
Follow The Straits Times’ stay protection on the Ukraine disaster right here.