The Biden administration is discussing ways to frame a ceasefire proposal to Ukraine with incentives like security guarantees amid concerns Kyiv may not be able to pull off a much-anticipated counteroffensive, according to Politico.
The Biden administration has repeatedly stressed that it is committed to helping Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” but public and private comments reveal serious doubts that Kyiv can recapture all territory taken by Russia since 2014. Should the upcoming, and seemingly delayed, counteroffensive fail, the Biden administration is preparing for criticism from all sides about its strategy and mulling presenting a strategy to achieve pared-down objectives as a “ceasefire” rather than peace negotiations with Russia, Politico reported, citing White House aides.
U.S. officials believe Kyiv is open to adjusting its goals and could more easily frame a ceasefire as a victory, according to Politico.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pledged to liberate Crimea from Moscow’s rule despite mounting concerns among western defense officials that the task of fully ousting Russian forces may prove more than Ukraine can accomplish. But Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office and one of the closest individuals to Zelenskyy, suggested in early April that Ukraine could be open to discussing the status of Crimea with Russia if Kyiv’s forces reach the border of the occupied region, according to the Financial Times.
An apparently leaked Pentagon document from late February projected Ukraine could fall “well short” of its objectives in a planned counteroffensive to recapture territory occupied by Russia, The Washington Post reported. The document appears to detail a variety of factors, including estimated ammunition shortfalls and struggles to amass sufficient troops, suggesting the counteroffensive will produce only “modest territorial gains,” the document says.
The ceasefire would come with some incentives, with options including security guarantees resembling the NATO alliance, economic assistance from the European Union, bolstered military aid and other benefits, according to Politico. Aides also told the outlet that they hope in that scenario Beijing could be mobilized to draw Moscow to the negotiating table. (RELATED: Secretary Austin Does Damage Control For Document Leaks In Meeting With Allies)
“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided.
“He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong.
“Today, in Kyiv, I am meeting with President Zelenskyy and his team.”
– President Biden pic.twitter.com/VTfcMohbF8
— Adrienne Watson (@NSC_Spox) February 20, 2023
A National Security Council spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation the Politico report was “not correct” without going into detail about whether the discussions reported or the undercurrent of the story — that the Biden administration is concerned about saving face — were in dispute.
The administration fears criticism from hawkish members of American politics and from Zelenskyy himself that the administration dragged its feet on providing military capabilities crucial to the offensive, according to Politico. At the same time, the dovish wing will view a failed counteroffensive as the death knoll for Ukraine’s resistance to Russian invaders.
“We’ve nearly completed the requests of what [Ukraine] said they needed for the counteroffensive as we have surged weapons and equipment to Ukraine over the past few months,” one administration official told Politico on condition of anonymity.
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