space traveling warriors tier list : Austin’s assertion that the US wants to ‘weaken’ Russia underlines Biden’s change in strategy

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A spokesman for the National Security Council said Austin’s comments were consistent with US goals for months – namely, “to make this invasion a strategic failure for Russia”.

“We want Ukraine to win,” the spokesman added. “One of our goals was to limit Russia’s ability to do something like that again, as Secretary Austin said. That’s why we’re arming the Ukrainians with weapons and equipment to defend against Russian attacks, and that’s why we’re using sanctions. and exporting controls that are aimed directly at Russia’s defense industry to undermine Russia’s economic and military power to threaten and attack its neighbors.”

US officials traveling with Austin said the message is one he plans to reiterate, according to a senior administration official. Russia’s exit from the conflict weaker than before is an idea that other Biden administration officials have referenced. US officials, however, had previously been reluctant to state so clearly that the US objective is to see Russia fail and be militarily emasculated in the long term, remaining cautiously optimistic that some sort of negotiated settlement could be reached.

An Eastern European official told CNN that the mindset was incredibly frustrating. “The only solution to this is for Ukraine to win,” he said.

The shift in strategy has taken place in recent weeks, evidenced by a growing tolerance for increased risk with the deployment of more complex Western weapons, and is a reflection of the belief that Putin’s goals in Ukraine would not end if he succeeded in taking part in the Ukraine, as they did not after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, said a British diplomat.

“Even if they come up with some fix where (Putin) takes some of the Donbas and everything goes idle, logic would dictate that there is more road to go. So what you can take away from the battlefield in this window is not just a victory short term is also a long term strategy.”

Now, there is a growing realization among US and Western officials – especially after the massacre of civilians by the Russians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha – that Russia needs to be so wounded economically and on the battlefield that its aggression is stopped for good. , American and Western officials told CNN.

“So it’s already lost a lot of military capability,” Austin said. “And a lot of their troops, frankly. And we want them not to have the ability to reproduce that ability too quickly.”

Biden administration officials are optimistic that this is an achievable goal, sources told CNN. Administration officials and congressional sources said they believe continued military support for Ukraine could result in significant blows to Russia that will undermine its long-term military capabilities, strategically benefiting the US.

As Russian rockets crash in Kharkiv, its paramedics are risking their lives to save others.

The US has already started sending heavier and more sophisticated equipment to Ukraine that it has refrained from supplying in the past, including 72 Phoenix Ghost tactical howitzers and drones.

“The way we’re looking at it is that it’s making an investment to neutralize the Russian army and navy for the next decade,” said a congressional source familiar with ongoing military assistance to Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that while “obviously now the war is in Ukraine”, the US and its allies “are also looking to stop (Russia) from expanding its efforts and President Putin’s goals beyond that as well.”

A delicate ‘balancing act’

Officials have noted, however, that the US and its allies are carefully putting the needle in when it comes to penalizing Russia — both because of the collateral damage that severe sanctions can have on the global economy and because of the risk that Putin will strike out if he does. It’s too far back in a corner.

A source familiar with US intelligence assessments of Russia said that “there is certainly a balancing act that needs to be taken into account” when punishing the country, “whether in the sanctions space or the military and intelligence support space.” .

That person added that while the US still reckons Putin’s red lines for the use of nuclear weapons haven’t changed, “one of those red lines is regime stability,” they said — meaning Putin can strike out if he feels that his government is seriously threatened.

Aid groups helping Ukraine tackle cyber and physical threatsAid groups helping Ukraine tackle cyber and physical threats

A US official said separately that he believes Austin’s comments were not helpful for that reason, and because it could fall into Russian propaganda that NATO and US support for Ukraine is a power game.

The aim is not to tell the Russians that “no matter what happens, the US and NATO will weaken them,” the official said, but rather that the West intends to punish Russia while it is at war with Ukraine.

A State Department spokesperson said the sanctions the US and its allies have established are “all in response to Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine. of funding their war machine, to stop the killing. They also intend to punish those who actively support Putin’s brutal and unprovoked war. It’s not about harming the Russian people.”

It remains unclear what the US would do about sanctions if Russia reached a significant peace deal with Ukraine and pulled out its forces. Several sources told CNN that, in this scenario, the US would likely consider lifting some sanctions, in a show of good faith, while maintaining others. The US and allies, including the UK, are also evaluating the feasibility of a “snapback” mechanism that would allow them to quickly reimpose sanctions if Moscow breaches any agreements reached with Kiev, the sources said.

But with the conflict still ongoing and prospects for a peace deal increasingly dim, those options are a long way from being implemented, officials said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that Russia’s change in behavior must be “irreversible” before the US considers lifting sanctions.

“They’re going to want to make sure that whatever is done is, in fact, irreversible, that it can’t happen again, that Russia isn’t going to pick up and do exactly what it’s doing in a year, two or three years.” he said. Blinken said in an interview with NPR.

Changing concerns about escalation

Russia’s poor performance and significant battlefield losses contributed significantly to the US’s increasingly bold stance, officials said.

While Washington was previously concerned that the deployment of heavy artillery could be seen as a provocation, Biden announced billions of dollars in new shipments of tanks, missiles and munitions last month, an indication that some initial concerns about the escalation of the conflict have eased.

The US is also preparing to train Ukraine’s military in more advanced, NATO-capable weapons systems, Austin told reporters on Monday – a move that will allow the US and its allies to provide more powerful weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine. faster, since these systems are more readily available than the Soviet-era equipment the West has had to steal to date.

“There are a lot of changes happening simultaneously,” said the British diplomat. “One is looking at future capabilities and that is related to artillery and more modern weaponry. Two, let’s take what’s on the battlefield.”

Why Ukraine's aid may struggle to pass the SenateWhy Ukraine's aid may struggle to pass the Senate

Biden himself has been steadily increasing the rhetoric when describing Putin – going from calling him a war criminal to saying he cannot remain in power and accusing him of committing genocide – despite concerns among some of his advisers that the language could make Putin attack. Outside.

But the president has played down those concerns in particular, according to people familiar with the conversations, saying articulating what is clearly evident is more important than risking potential escalation. And he pointed out that Russia’s military capabilities don’t look as strong as the US believed.

Ambassador Nathan Sales, who until 2021 served as Under Secretary for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights at the State Department, said the “result” is that “a weaker Russia means a more stable world” and that the US should prepare to your Russia policy

“As long as Putin is giving the orders, Russia will be an evil actor,” he said. “And so we cannot expect Russia to be a constructive and responsible actor in Europe or the wider international system.” Sales added that the US must therefore prepare for “an extended period” of its policy towards Russia aimed at limiting its ability to “cause damage around the world”.

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