In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria prior to the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, last week, President Joe Biden said he did not “think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, and that the process could take place only after a peace agreement with Russia was in place.”

 

There it is again – “a peace agreement with Russia.” Not a win, but a negotiated settlement. It begs the question – what is the end state in Ukraine for the Biden Administration? 

 

One thing is for sure, it is not consistent with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s end state – “Russian forces completely withdraw[n] from the occupied Donbas region and the Crimean Peninsula,” or that of his commanding general Valery Zaluzhnyy, who adamantly stated his intent to reclaim Crimea recently in a Washington Post article, “As soon as I have the means, I’ll do something. I don’t give a damn — nobody will stop me.”

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Unlike the Biden administration, the general is not concerned about a Russian response to taking the battle to the opposite side of the border, stating: “To save my people, why do I have to ask someone for permission what to do on enemy territory?

 

“For some reason, I have to think that I’m not allowed to do anything there. Why? Because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will … use nuclear weapons? The kids who are dying don’t care.

US Biden Expected to Attend Ukraine Peace Formula Summit Talks in June
Other Topics of Interest

US Biden Expected to Attend Ukraine Peace Formula Summit Talks in June

US President Joe Biden is expected to attend a high-level Ukraine war peace conference which is expected to be held in Switzerland in mid-June, Swiss media reported on Wednesday, April 10.

 

Someone in the White House, Pentagon or Foggy Bottom should be taking notes – with or without them, Ukraine is going to take the fight to Russia.

 

To the Biden administration’s credit, they have led the effort to supply Ukraine with humanitarian aid, weapons, ammunition, training, and intelligence to defend themselves – over $75 billion. And the President has reassured Zelensky on numerous occasions that the United States stands “shoulder to shoulder” with them.  

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Biden doubled down on that message at the conclusion of the NATO Summit stating: “We will not waver … our commitment to Ukraine will not weaken. We will stand for liberty and freedom today, tomorrow, and for as long as it takes.

 

“We all want this war to end on just terms.”

 

But “just terms” does not necessarily mean win. Winning – defeating the Russian invasion and evicting them out of Ukraine, to include Crimea, arguably, has never been the end state for the Biden Administration.

 

And therein lies the rub.

 

Washington’s stated objective at the onset of the “special military operation” was made clear when Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin said: “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” 

 

That statement was validated later by a spokesperson from the National Security Council who said: “U.S. goals were to make this invasion a strategic failure for Russia.

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“One of our goals has been to limit Russia’s ability to do something like this again, as Secretary Austin said. That’s why we are arming the Ukrainians with weapons and equipment to defend themselves from Russian attacks.”

 

Biden’s preferred outcome has always been a negotiated settlement – a political solution. This was validated in November 2022, when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said: “There may be a political solution where politically the Russians withdraw. You want to negotiate at a time when you’re at your strength, and your opponent is at weakness.

 

“And it’s possible, maybe, that there’ll be a political solution. All I’m saying is there’s a possibility for it.” 

 

He later added, “When there’s an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved, seize it.” 

 

The White House strategy has always been to weaken Russia. Winning the war could lead to a “regime change” in Moscow, and the White House seemingly wants nothing to do with that.

 

That explains the trickle-down strategy of providing weapons to Ukraine and their “just in time” delivery to the battlefield. Just enough to fend off the invader, but not enough to push them out of the country or interdict the next wave of replacements.

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Targets beyond the Ukrainian border are off limits as John Kirby clearly articulated on June 5th when he told reporters: “We don’t encourage, we don’t enable and we don’t support strikes or attacks inside Russia.” 

 

The dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICMS) recently released by the Department of Defense is a welcome addition to the Ukrainian arsenal, but it keeps the battle in the trenches – in Ukraine.

 

The close fight is significant and must be won to break through the defensive belts, but it will not win the war – interdiction will, and that means cross border strikes.

 

The United Kingdom and France get it. Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles provide Ukraine with the precision deep strike capability necessary to set conditions to win.

 

It is not a matter of individual weapon systems or munitions; rather, the collective combined arms approach to warfare. For now, close air support and precision deep strike capabilities are in demand.

 

U.S. strategy has been about getting Russia and Ukraine to the negotiation table, and attrition has been the tool. But neither Putin nor Zelensky will take the bait; therefore, the war drags on and becomes one of the forever wars Biden promised the American public he would never draw the U.S. into again.

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The Javelin missile, Switchblade drones, HIMARS and the Patriot Missile System are all exceptional weapon systems and have enabled Ukraine. HIMARS levelled the battlefield and shifted momentum to Ukraine; however, the U.S. secretly modified the weapons system so it “could not be used to fire long-range missiles into Russia … a precaution the Biden administration says is necessary to reduce the risk of a wider war with Moscow.” 

 

They have been just enough to survive and fight back against the Russian invasion, but not enough to pursue and defeat the enemy. Enough to weaken them in a war of attrition but given sanctuary on the Russian side of the border, the Kremlin is able to continue to wage their war on unarmed Ukrainian civilians and replenish their losses in the trenches at will. 

 

Seventeen months into a war with Russia, and the Biden Administration still has not made a decision on providing ATACMS or F-16s to Ukraine.

 

For all the talk the President puts into ‘being on the right side of history,’ his indecisiveness is in fact a decision that prolongs the war of attrition in Ukraine. When does weakening Russia transition into winning the war?

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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' observation about then-Vice President Joe Biden still rings true: "I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” 

 

Only now, those decisions are measured in lives lost – and unless Biden reverses course and goes for the win in Ukraine, he risks proving Gates right in terms of the single biggest decision of his presidency to date. 

  

With the assistance of the U.S. and NATO, Ukraine has put forth a herculean effort to be in a position to win this war and secure Europe’s eastern flank. They deserve the right to win, to live in peace, and become a member of the NATO Alliance.

 

Copyright 2023. Jonathan E. Sweet and Mark C. Toth. All rights reserved.

 

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

 

Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet (@JESweet2022) served 30 years as a military intelligence officer. His background includes tours of duty with the 101st Airborne Division and the Intelligence and Security Command. He led the U.S. European Command Intelligence Engagement Division from 2012-14.

 

Mark Toth (@MCTothSTL) writes on national security and foreign policy. Previously an economist and entrepreneur, he has worked in banking, insurance, publishing and global commerce. A former board member of the World Trade Center, St. Louis, he has lived in U.S. diplomatic and military communities around the world.

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Comments (17)

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BG
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Careful what you wish for Kyiv, if Trump wins in 2024 you'll get the rug completely pulled out from under you. A starving man shouldn't complain that the good Samaritin isn't giving him exactly the food he wants.

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John H.
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It appears that Biden's strategy is based on the only successful large-scale American military operation since World War II - The Desert Storm War of 1991. In that war the UN Coalition ejected Iraq's army from Kuwait. Militarily it was necessary to enter southern Iraq to stymie any reinforcements, but the US led coalition withdrew from Iraq's territory after declaring an end to hostilities.
If and when Ukraine is able to expel Russian forces from its land, including Crimea - it will have to attack regrouping of Russian forces on Russian territory with its domestically produced weaponry. It would be in Ukraine's best interest to focus its small but growing arms industry into creating the armaments needed to keep the Russians pinned down in Russia and prevent its regrouping and reorganizing while seeking a Korea-like cease fire.

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gary
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Biden raised three children all addicted to drugs, sex and alcohol, what makes you think he will really help Ukrainians?

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Imokru2
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The very worst case for Ukraine is that they will fight Russia in an endless war of attrition.
But the end result of that is still a loss for Russia.

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james
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It is matter of time , Republic of Soviet Union will again include Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. There will be only one republic , one nation. This war will go for years and may turn to nuclear . No one wants to endanger their cities just for Ukraine and Poland. They are not like Taiwan which controls global economy. It does not matter to world if Ukraine or Poland is there or not but if Taiwan is not there then world economy will be stagnant. Stop wasting money and lives . Think about China and Taiwan.

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CeesBoogaart
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If Russia wins aka Ukraine looses cause West don't deliver military aid in time and quantity, russia won't stop and go on, into former soviet union members, now sovereign countries. Putin wanted before all NATO troops back to lines of 1997. Saberrattling nuclear treats which have no ground, cause until 2014 Ukraine designed, build and MAINTAINED the russian nukes, until 2014 that is. ,
That west now has economic costs is cause appeasement esp. from Ribbentrop Germany and France, who tried to push Ukraine into Minsk 1-2.
So West should step up military aid and stop asking Ukraine to abide by their rules, cause in case anyone forget, it's Ukraine who's fighting, West and China is just watching it unfold, and the ones who are warning for WW3, they have to open their eyes, that started in 2014 with invasion in Crimea and Donbass and got worse in February 2022.
China is watching if they can take advantage of the situation, taking Taiwan and/or Siberia, but they forget like Russia has no friends, China has only customers, so worldwide sanctions would have a devastating effect on it's economy and people,
After Ukraine wins this war, securing their borders of 1991, all countries not helping Ukraine, just complaining will feel the pain of to beg the Ukraine government for goods and services, on which Ukraine will ask where were you when I was in trouble, when we needed a friend in need, not for greed?

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Ted Cruz
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If the USA can admit it made a mistake in convincing Ukraine to dismantle its nuclear deterrent, and its strategic bombers, then it is only fair that the USA restores these assets to Ukraine

CEESBOOGAART
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@Ted Cruz,

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CEESBOOGAART
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@Ted Cruz, correct if nukes were given to Ukraine no war would have happened, by giving all nukes to russia USA made sure it was a single enemy for Europe, fueling the military industrial complex of USA, Eisenhower warned about.

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E A Morgan-Coakle
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Reply for Jack Griffin - you state NATO only exists to counter Russia. This is wrong.
NATO has been and will long be a force to recon with when this Russian - Ukrainian war ends. One of the other principle aims of NATO is to stop its members from attacking each other, as has successfully happened in the last 70 years. As it is said, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, so in addition NATO may well be required to help with China. Japanese statesmen values NATOs new office in Tokyo for good reason .

Jack also states NATO is using Ukraine - this is, at best only a byproduct of events and is partly correct.
The problem facing us is containing an unstable nuclear powered insecure Russia.
NATO would be happy with whatever deal Ukraine decides upon, as the US have repeatedly said - "it is up to them.." even a ceasefire tomorrow, borders as they stand today I venture.

The risks of WW III simply do not stack up against an escalating war.
Yes as things currently are NATO is benefiting from Ukraine's growing ability to reduce Russia's military capability as Jack notes. But.... that is a mere byproduct of Ukraine's determination to fight for what is right.
Jack, there are real limits to the amount of blood that any nation can shed. Pyrrhic victories are to be avoided.

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David
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With or without America, Ukraine is going to take the fight to Russia and win.
The Afghans did that to both Russia and America.
No doubt Ukraine can and will beat Russia, much faster than Afghanistan did.
With or without America.
Therefore , with or without Trump.
It’s just a matter of adjusting time and methodology according to means available.
The Taliban are living proof of that.

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John Hillock
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Biden is an incompetent fool. You guys act like he is some sort of mastermind. Biden is doing exactly what China has told him to do. Don’t be foolish and trust Biden

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Real Winning
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what will writing a comment here do? i have written to Biden and others many times warning against broadcasting weakness and fearfulness, and making a case in favor of what Ukraine and the world needs.

but in the end, the Bible tells us what happens, for nations and for individuals. It will come, and they cannot stop it. think very carefully what REAL WINNING means regarding what the Bible tells us from God. Mostly anyone who dies goes to Hell. All nations become totally evil and receive horrific punishments. Etc. That is the future of Ukraine, USA, NATO, Russia, China, Islamists, etc etc. Almost everyone born, in all these nations, will be better off if they had not been born to just go to Hell! REAL WINNING is ONLY by real belief in the real Jesus, and few are those who find it!

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I support
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People understand if we, stopped supporting it will be genocide and the proff is all the war crimes committed already.

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Alex Exley
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It's a complete failure to understand the fascistic imperial psyche combined with an end-of-history, status-quo seeking mentality that has plagued the West for decades now and repeatedly appeased Russia's barbaric imperial ambitions.

"Never again" was a phrase used post-WW2 to signal the idea that genocidal atrocities against civilian populations would not be tolerated. Now well into the post-truth, authoritarian-resurgent era, with daily atrocities, barbaric war crimes, and acts of ethnic cleansing in Ukraine, and the West's clear ability to provide the weaponry necessary for a decisive win and their choosing not to do so but to purposefully prolong the war while kowtowing to Orwellian rhetoric about "escalation", the West has retired "Never again" for good.

GregC
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@Alex Exley, Western nations are truly ignoring the crimes the atrocities being committed in Ukraine. the daily bombing of civilians, schools, hospitals, churches and all else where civilians are.

Yes leaders make big speeches, while Ukrainians die

Never has the world witness such cowardice by world leaders, sure send some weapons, some money and supplies but God forbid any Western nation would speak out and state clearly they want Ukraine to WIN!

The goal seems to be let Ukrainians die, all over the place and at some point in time Americans will send weapons to stop the daily air raids, the launching of missiles from within Russia.... Putin has been given a green light to do anything he wants from within Russia...

When Ukraine pushes Russian troops out, Putin will still launch missiles, still be allowed to bomb cities and Ukraine will never be admitted into NATO because of these actions.

It seems the USA is seeking a forever war in Ukraine, until the last Ukrainian dies.

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E A Morgan-Coakle
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High value military concentrations being used to attack Ukraine but inside Russia are a legitimate target. NATO should support this publically.

Finances are a vital part of any war. ATACMs and F 16s are expensive kit best held in reserve till Ukraine has finished training its army.
War is, in part, a contest of wills and being the defender creates great motivation. The ordinary Russian does not want to fight their cousins in Ukraine.
Why on earth would you want to motivate Russians to volunteer for a general mobilisation and die to defend their fatherland?

Sapping Russian will to fight is a critical aim in war policy.
Who knows which side will throw in the towel first Exhausted? Where will the borders be then?
If you escalate the war into Russia Ukraine runs the risk of being over extended and it is critical to keep the public in donor countries on side.
NATO is a defensive alliance and it is demonstrating it to Russia in its support for Ukraine.

Russia needs security not aggression to rally its troops.
Ukraine does not have an unlimited right to deplete NATO economies in an endless war.
There may well come a time when a deal must be done for Peace.
Yes young people are dying needlessly whilst 'Vlad the Vandal' and his sycophants eat caviar in luxury, whilst dreaming of past.
Justice is awaiting Vlad either here or before his Maker.

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I support
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Well saying one thing and doing another not a new idea. As for Biden I'm not American so all I got to say is thank you for your tremendous support but could we have long range missiles. This war is as brutal as it comes. Maybe cluster munitions will help but air support is needed.I rally behide the brave Ukraines. 6 million refuges is lot to take care of . Plus Nato must keep its self armed and ready. There are a lot of factors at work here F16s and support isn't cheap. The loss of life is staggering . The Russian army needs to be hit hard and now.

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Zen
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Authors are entirely correct. US is using Ukraine to debilitate and not defeat Russia. Weak Kremlin is better than defeated Kremlin. It's a delicate manoeuvring by Washington at the expense of Ukrainian men, dying every day.

The one single weapon that could have ended this war immediately - Ukraine given a NUCLEAR weapon and posted near the border with Russia. Same move Putin took with delivering nuclear-capable war heads in Belarus.

Deterrence - works both ways!

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Barruntaranchos
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I don´t share the content of the article. It is cristal clear that Ukraine allies have not provided enough weapons neither in volume not in time, but the US has been the main provider by far. All NATO members agree that attacks on Russian territory should be avoided, as they would provide the excuse Putin needs to use nuclear weapons. We have just seen how criminal Putin is when he blew up the Kakhova dam, and he would have no remorse to blow up the nuclear plant they control now, putting the blame on Ukraine. All the efforts, by the allies and Zelensky must be on providing enough weapons, and all should stop wasting the time complaining about the date for entrance on NATO and similar stupid things. For all those how complain about the US role in this tragedy, let´s hope Trump don´t win next year´s election, because if that is the result, let´s pray for Ukraine, Moldana, Baltic Republics.......

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