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Reviews |  What is the American strategy in Ukraine?

It is tempting to see Ukraine’s astonishing successes against Russian aggression as a sign that with sufficient US and European aid, Ukraine is poised to push Russia back to its pre-invasion positions. . But this is a dangerous assumption.

A decisive Ukrainian military victory over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all of the territory that Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal. Although Russia’s planning and fighting were surprisingly sloppy, Russia remains too strong and Mr. Putin has invested too much personal prestige in the invasion to back down.

The United States and NATO are already deeply involved, militarily and economically. Unrealistic expectations could drag them even deeper into a costly and drawn-out war. Russia, however battered and inept, is still capable of inflicting untold destruction on Ukraine and is still a nuclear superpower with an aggrieved and unstable despot who has shown little inclination towards a negotiated settlement. Ukraine and Russia now “seem further apart than at any other point in the nearly three-month-long war,” as The Times reported.

Recent belligerent statements from Washington – President Biden’s assertion that Mr Putin “cannot stay in power”, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s comment that Russia must be “weakened” and the President’s promise of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that the United States would support Ukraine “until victory is won” – may elicit proclamations of support, but they do not bring negotiations closer.

In the end, it is the Ukrainians who must make the hard decisions: they are the ones who fight, die and lose their homes to Russian aggression, and they are the ones who must decide what the end of the war. If the conflict leads to real negotiations, it will be the Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will require.

The United States and NATO have demonstrated that they will support the Ukrainian struggle with sufficient firepower and other means. And regardless of the end of the fighting, the United States and its allies must be ready to help Ukraine rebuild.

But as the war continues, Mr. Biden should also make it clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will face Russia, and limits arms, money and political support they can muster. . It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its capabilities and the degree of further destruction Ukraine can sustain.

nytimes Gt

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