Most senior US officials want to keep supporting the proxy war against Russia and are not looking for diplomatic off-ramps despite Ukraine’s faltering counteroffensive, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported on Sunday.
Ignatius writes: “I heard this same sentiment across all levels of the US government in recent days. The summer has been frustrating and, in some ways, disappointing for Ukraine and its Western backers. But rather than look for a quick diplomatic exit ramp, most senior US officials appear more convinced than ever of the need to stand fast with Kyiv. The United States, in their view, cannot be seen to abandon its ally.”
US intelligence has determined Ukraine’s counteroffensive will fail to meet its core objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea, but the US is still pressing Ukraine to push harder and concentrate its forces to make a push toward the Sea of Azov in the south. Ignatius said the US thinks Ukraine could still do some damage to Russian forces but doesn’t expect a “decisive blow.”
“That means a continuation of this grueling war into 2024 and beyond, and a continuation of the heavy casualties and emotional trauma for both sides,” Ignatius said. “US officials believe strategic patience remains the best weapon against Russian President Vladimir Putin, who still thinks he can outlast Ukraine and the West.”
As the Biden administration is expecting to keep fueling the war for years to come, US officials are considering ways to provide Ukraine with more forms of support. One idea is to send more types of widely-banned cluster munitions, which can kill and maim civilians for decades after the war. “There’s growing backing in Washington for providing rocket-launched cluster munitions, for example, which could strike deeper than the artillery-fired versions the United States began supplying last month,” Ignatius wrote.
Ignatius said US officials are expecting Ukraine to increase drone attacks on Russian territory as its forces are struggling on the ground. On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine launched 42 drones on Crimea, and Ignatius said the attack “is a foretaste of what’s ahead.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the Biden administration has discouraged diplomacy and fueled the conflict by pouring tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons into the war zone. Ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected the idea of a ceasefire even though reports indicated the US did not believe the Ukrainian assault would be a success.