After the highest-profile visit of high-ranking United States officials to Kiev since the Russian aggression began, the White House has formulated what will be its strategy towards the Kremlin in the coming months, as expressed on Monday by the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin: “That Russia is weakened to the point where it can’t repeat things like invading Ukraine.”
To do this, this Monday, after the recent trip to Kiev by Austin himself and the American chief diplomat, Antony Blinken, Washington announced that it is imminently reopening its diplomatic mission in Kiev and that it will send another batch of ammunition to Ukrainian partners in the coming days.
Over the weekend, Austin and Blinken met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after a series of visits to Kiev by European heads of government, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson .
Biden has been criticized by several Republicans for not going to Kiev in person, although he did visit the border from Poland, meeting refugees. For now, the White House says there are no immediate plans for Biden to travel to kyiv.
After meeting with Zelensky, Secretary of State Blinken announced that US diplomats are returning to Ukraine. They will first be on occasional trips to Lviv, in the west of the country, although the intention is that they will soon return permanently to the capital. Washington ordered the complete evacuation in February, before the imminent Russian invasion, of which the White House had been warning publicly for weeks. President Biden said later on returning to Washington, after spending the weekend at his Delaware residence, that the visit went well according to reports that reached him. The White House also announced on Monday that Biden has chosen a new ambassador to Ukraine. It will be Bridget Brink, a long-time diplomat who today serves as ambassador to Slovakia.
The post of ambassador to Ukraine has been vacant since May 2019, when Donald Trump removed Marie Yovanovich , accusing her of lack of professionalism. According to Yovanovich herself and the Democrats, who subjected Trump to the impeachment trial for that scandal, the former president fired her because she opposed her attempt to get Zelensky to investigate the businesses of Biden’s son, Hunter, in Ukraine to harm to the Democrat in the 2020 elections. Since then, there have been three different chargé d’affaires at the head of the US diplomatic mission in kyiv.
‘Russia is failing’
As the head of the Pentagon, Blinken on Monday directed harsh criticism at Russia after the meeting in kyiv. “Russia is failing. Ukraine is succeeding. Russia has sought, as its main objective, to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. In that, he has failed,” said Blinken already in Poland, as reported later by the American public radio NPR.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki later added that the US is seeking to limit Vladimir Putin’s plans to invade other parts of Europe beyond Ukraine. “We are proud of the Ukrainians’ success in responding to Russian aggression, and yes, we are seeking to prevent Russia’s expansion beyond [this conflict],” Psaki told her daily news conference.
After Austin, the head of the Pentagon, said after his meeting with Zelensky that the US actively seeks to weaken Russia due to its expansionist desires in Europe, the US government revealed that it has approved the sale of ammunition to Ukraine for value of 165 million dollars , about 154 million euros at current exchange rates.
Last week, Biden announced that he was doubling military aid sent to Ukraine from $800 million to $1.6 billion for artillery and armored personnel carriers. In addition, the White House has authorized an additional 500 million dollars in aid to the Zelensky government. The US has given more than $4 billion in total aid to Ukraine since Biden took office, according to the White House.
Washington has sent Ukraine weapons such as 155mm howitzers, artillery shells and tactical drones. In addition, 50 Ukrainians will soon receive training in the use of artillery donated by the US in a third country, the Pentagon revealed. Another 50 are expected to join them in the coming weeks.
Such support for Ukrainian forces does not mean that the US is contemplating direct involvement in the conflict with Russia, and the official position of the White House is that there will be no US troops on the Ukrainian battlefield . Last month, Biden described that possibility as “the risk of a new world war.”
Russian aggression in Ukraine has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, and the US has openly accused Putin of being responsible for massacres and other human rights violations. For this reason, Biden has authorized an initiative to support the denunciations against Putin and the rest of the leaders of the Russian regime before international courts. Russia, for its part, has lost thousands of soldiers since its first incursion in February.