The Biden administration is joining the ranks of the rest of us ‘Russian sympathizers’ and ‘agents of the Kremlin’ who have called for discussions of a negotiated cease-fire and peace between Ukraine and Russia. Reports have tricked out the last few days that the administration has been having conversations with Ukraine and Russia on a path forward.
The question worth asking is why the renewed interest in support? Could it be the pending midterms that could see a Republican majority in Congress, raising fears that support for Ukraine might cool?
Or is it pressure by American constituents who have felt the economic pain of inflation forcing them to tighten their home budgets, raising questions of when our government will tighten its budget? Let’s take a deeper look at these new reports.
Scoop: The Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless Putin is removed from power, per sources https://t.co/f6OuXn6hph
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) November 5, 2022
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the experts believed Russia would annihilate the Ukrainian forces within days. Instead, here we are holding on the cusp of the winter months, and Ukraine is solid thanks in large part to the massive assistance from the United States.
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However, support for a war with no real end in sight has been losing its flair both in the United States and Europe. Winter months for Europeans mean an increased need for heating oil, which due to the war and sanctions against Russia, mean even higher prices that could lead to colder nights for European families.
An anonymous US official told the Washington Post that:
“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners.”
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This could be why the Biden administration has started privately whispering in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ear that it’s time to adjust his stance of total victory and no negotiations with President Vladimir Putin to a more amenable public position to negotiations.
Italians are tired of fueling the Ukraine conflict and demand cessation of supplying arms to Ukraine. This is Ukraine fatigue setting in. pic.twitter.com/BL0W5Z61Rx
— Spare us the hypocrisy (@notihypocrisy) November 6, 2022
The Biden administration is a bit late to the party if you ask some of us who have been calling for adding diplomatic talks to the military and economic aid provided.
Just a few weeks ago, the Congressional Progressive Caucus had to awkwardly retract a mildly worded letter to the White House asking for the exact thing the administration allegedly started doing behind closed doors with Ukraine.
Elon Musk, who at one point was heralded as a savior at the beginning of the war for providing Starlink services to Ukraine to keep its internet services up and running, was rebuked harshly by Ukrainian officials and blue and yellow flag pin wearers alike for suggesting a negotiated peace as well.
One such Ukrainian official told him to “F*** off,” which is a strange way to thank a benefactor.
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Democratic Party escapee Tulsi Gabbard has been labeled a Russian propagandist for her calls for a negotiated peace. The standard line from the pro-war crowd is that anyone calling for peace with a nuclear power is a “useful idiot.”
Case in point:
Putin’s useful idiots. https://t.co/itBF4UkwKX
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 3, 2022
Unfortunately, while this kind of tough talk might raise the morale of the Ukrainian troops and populace, it is no longer winning the hearts and minds of those footing the bill.
Not A Terrible Strategy
Don’t get me wrong; This is welcome news that the administration is attempting to lay the groundwork for a future negotiated settlement. Like almost all other wars, this will end with negotiation, not a total defeat of either side.
Scoop: NSA Jake Sullivan has been having quiet convos, undisclosed until now, with Russian officials over Ukraine in an effort to deescalate amid concerns over nukes. @whisperman and @mgordonwsj report tonight https://t.co/9I8xbZTM2E
— Gordon Lubold (@glubold) November 6, 2022
The Biden administration is also reportedly in contact with Russia, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan possibly speaking with Yuri Ushakov. He is the foreign policy adviser to Mr. Putin. Additionally, Mr. Sullivan is also talking with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev.
It is good that nuclear powers have communication, especially amid a conflict that could escalate to catastrophic nuclear war. There are signs that this is the perfect time to start these initial conversations.
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Ukraine has made some commendable military moves taking back some territory and pushing the Russian offense back, no doubt a surge before the winter months settle in. Additionally, Russia has watered down the nuclear attack talk with an update on their Foreign Ministry website stating:
“Russia is strictly and consistently guided by the tenet that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
Perhaps the walk back is due to Chinese President Xi Jinping stating with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that they:
“jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.”
The question is, will President Zelensky play ball?
Perhaps Too Late
So far, the United States has provided the largest security assistance since the end of the Cold War to Ukraine at a staggering $18.2 billion. The security assistance money doesn’t include the other $60 billion in overall aid we’ve provided to Ukraine.
Or the $50 billion Congress is reportedly trying to ram through before the next Congress is seated in January.
If Republicans take over Congress, there is a concern among the pro-war crowd that the flow of money will stop. For example, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene recently said at a campaign event:
“Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.”
I doubt that, and I also don’t fully support that statement. But the waning support of Republicans overall can’t be ignored.
According to a Wall Street Journal poll earlier this month, 48% of Republicans say the United States is doing “too much” to support Ukraine, up 6% from March. So the administration is finally starting to see that it’s time to discuss what ‘victory’ realistically looks like in Ukraine.
However, President Zelensky might have a different appetite for a negotiated peace. Just last Wednesday, he told a reporter that when the war ends he:
“…really want to see the sea.”
“After the victory, I will go to Crimea. I want to see the sea. This will not happen in winter, what to do on the sea in winter? I will go when it’s warm,” Zelensky hints😏 pic.twitter.com/QATuIF4Mi4
— Oriannalyla 🇺🇦 (@Lyla_lilas) November 2, 2022
This is a nod to his goal of taking Crimea back from Russia. But what I’m waiting for is when President Zelensky and his government officials will tweet out for President Biden to “F*** off” and call Uncle Joe a “useful idiot.”
It’s arguable just how “useful” President Biden is. Still, we won’t see the same tough talk against this administration that we’ve seen against Elon Musk and Tulsi Gabbard.
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