Vladimir Putin must be stopped once and for all

Defense of Ukraine not enough. Defeating Russia on the battlefield is not enough. We must ensure – using all means at our disposal – that Vladimir Putin may not come back again Committing the kinds of atrocities that characterized two decades of his rule.

Fortunately, this week it was made quite clear that The Biden administration understands this necessity and made it a strategic focus of their foreign and national security policy efforts.

After visiting Ukraine with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said,We want to see Russia so weak that it can’t do the things it did in the invasion of Ukraine.

Although a senior US official admitted to me (somewhat uncomfortably) that “Austin said the quiet part out loud,” it soon became clear that the US was openly ready to own the new goal of turning Russia’s brutal, unwarranted escalation into Its eighth continuation – the war of the year in Ukraine leads to a permanent and significant defeat for the Kremlin.

On Tuesday in Germany – at a meeting of the “Ukrainian Defense Advisory Group” (the gathering of countries from around the world that have pledged support for the Ukrainian war effort) – Secretary Austin said the US belief is that Ukraine can win the war with Russia. Austin spokesman, John Kirby stated: “We don’t want Russia to be able to exert this kind of malign influence in Europe or anywhere in the world.”

Minister Blinken – from a month ago he said The Ukraine war will lead to a “strategic defeat” for Russia, and in advance this month He said that Russia had already suffered such a defeat – he argued before Congress on Tuesday that The budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must be fully funded In order to ensure a “strategic failure” of Russia. Senior officials in the National Security Council (NSC) have echoed that this is a A new and clear goal for the United States and its allies.

US statements are not just talk. Conversations with senior US officials at the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House confirm that these goals are supported by an intense, multi-level effort by senior officials.

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Providing Ukraine with all the support it needs is at the heart of the West’s efforts and coordinating this effort The goal of the multinational advisory group will bewhich will meet on a monthly basis from now on.

Helping this effort, of course, is the fact that Russia continues to make decisions that are not only morally repugnant but also disastrous for its military and state.

The The losses suffered by the Russian forces are catastrophic. Estimates of the dead in the first two months of the war range from 15,000 to more than 20,000 – with tens of thousands wounded or deserted. The UK Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, estimated that these figures represent 25 percent reduction in the combat capability of the Russian invasion.

The Russian economy has been hit hard by the sanctions. Estimated The crisis will wipe out more than a decade and a half of Russian growth. Russian Ministry of Economy The economy is expected to contract this year by between 8.8 per cent and 12.4 per cent.

Senior US officials note that Russia is deeply wounded in other ways. Its failures on the battlefield and its apparent commission of war crimes have made it increasingly difficult – even for those countries with which it has close relations or which sought to remain neutral at the start of this war – to gain any meaningful international support.

A senior US national security official said that Russia Disastrous performance so far It had a negative impact on Moscow’s relations with China, India, Turkey and Israel. The official added that, as the defeat of Russian-backed far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen indicated, those “connected to Russia” did not receive political help from Russia’s actions.

It should be noted that this did not prevent Senator Rand Paul from echoing Russian talking points in Tuesday’s Senate hearings with Secretary Blinken. Paul confirmed The explanation for the Russian invasion was related to the Biden administration’s push to accept Ukraine into NATO (a lie) and the fact that Ukraine was “part of Russia”.

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Russia doubled down on the damage to its international standing and economy this week Cut off gas supplies to two European countries in NATO– Poland and Bulgaria – because they refused to pay for energy shipments in rubles, as Moscow requested.

Vladimir Putin started this war. He did so because, in the past, world leaders were too weak to stand up to him, or too naive or corrupt to deny him the opportunity to multiply previous aggression with more brutality.

At the same time, the Biden administration is actively working diplomatically to strengthen its relations with both its allies and with those countries that were uncomfortable choosing the parties to the conflict in Ukraine. The President and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Blinken, Secretary Austin and their deputies have regular and frequent (virtual and live) meetings with their counterparts in the G7, NATO, the European Union, and the Quartet (Indo-Pacific Partnership). including India, Japan, Australia, and the United States), and via mechanisms such as the above-mentioned advisory group. These efforts will continue over the next six weeks with a series of high-profile events Including the ASEAN Summit in Washington, Trip to Japan and South KoreaNATO summit and meetings with European leaders in Spain in June.

The United States has been coordinating closely with Finland and Sweden, and with its NATO partners, to help ensure that these two northern countries can join the alliance quickly — if that is what they ultimately choose. The United States is also upgrading NATO capabilities along the border with Russia.

It should be noted that a special initiative was taken to find areas of common interest with the “new non-aligned” countries.

This effort, according to the officials involved, has been marked not by a desire to make a decision by certain countries not to support Ukraine’s war effort, but instead to focus on ways in which the United States can provide assistance or address specific bilateral issues. Not only will this strengthen American ties, but it will also help gain an advantage in what is emerging as an era of strategic rivalry — not just with Russia, but with China.

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These imperatives – consolidating Russia’s defeat in Ukraine and strengthening US alliances and friendships for a future period of potential competition and cyclical tension – largely supplant US counterterrorism-focused diplomatic priorities of the past two decades.

Thanks to Russia’s blunders and the efforts of the United States and its allies, the picture for Moscow and Putin is looking bleaker by the day – regardless of the final settlement of the war in Ukraine, and without a US or NATO soldier shooting. .

When this war ends, NATO will be bigger. Russia’s border with NATO would grow by nearly 1,000 miles, and if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, its position vis-à-vis the Baltic Sea and the Arctic would be significantly weakened. NATO’s defense investment They will surely rise, and NATO resources deployed near the Russian borders will almost certainly increase. The United States alone already has Pledge more than 4 billion dollars in security for Ukraine Since President Biden took office, the A major new funding initiative It is expected “very soon” according to a senior State Department official.

Russia’s economy is in ruins, and its future looks bleak Europe seeks to end dependence on Russian energy. Even sometime retarded Germany is accelerating its pace dramatically.

Ukraine will definitely appear stronger with Key pledges to helpand Fast-tracked EU entry is already in the near future.

Vladimir Putin started this war. He did so because, in the past, world leaders were too weak to stand up to him, or too naive or corrupt to deny him the opportunity to multiply previous aggression with more brutality. Now, at last, he faced opposition from Ukraine to Brussels to Washington that was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Their goal is as ambitious as it is worth. But it deserves our support because it is the only way to a lasting peace along Europe’s border with Russia.

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