As conflict stalls, US narrows its field of vision in Ukraine

It has now been over 100 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. As the conflict winds down with little end in sight, Phelan United States Center Director, Professor Peter Trubowitz writes that the Biden administration, along with other NATO allies, may scale back their strategic goals in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine passed the 100-day mark last Friday. Where are things?

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has stalled, with both sides now engaging in a long, hard grind. Neither side shows any interest in a ceasefire, let alone a diplomatic settlement of the fighting. In the absence of decisive progress on the battlefield, the questions of economic and political resilience will arise with greater acuity in the weeks and months to come. For Kyiv, the key question is how long Western democracies will remain united behind him. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the question is how long he can afford to fight a costly war on a long front in the hope that Berlin, Paris and Washington start pressuring the Ukrainians to do territorial concessions.

Are we already seeing signs of Western retreat in Ukraine?

Yes. French President Emmanuel Macron last week said it was important not to ‘humiliate’ Russia over the war in Ukraine, which was widely interpreted to mean that Kyiv would have to accept concessions at some point. territorial forces in Moscow to end the war and avoid a further escalation of the war. the dispute. Ukraine quickly dismissed Macron’s comment, but the French president is not alone. Indeed, while the Biden administration has now agreed to send longer-range missiles to Kyiv, there are signs that it too is restricting its sights in Ukraine.

How have Biden’s strategic goals narrowed in Ukraine?

Last week the New York Times published an important op-ed from President Biden. Instead of the administration’s earlier rhetoric about defeating Russia and toppling Putin, Biden outlined more limited goals: to help Ukraine defend itself; seek a negotiated peace between Kyiv and Moscow; and reduce the risk of escalation and a larger war involving NATO. Why this change in tone? Russia’s recent battlefield gains (e.g., final capture of the eastern city of Mariupol) have increased the likelihood that the war will drag on, with no clear winner. This forced the Biden administration to further align its strategy with the facts on the ground.

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the announcement of the Marshall Plan. What do you think George Marshall would do with American foreign policy today?

When Secretary of State Marshall delivered that famous speech at the opening of Harvard on June 5, 1947, launching the American initiative to provide aid to support Europe’s post-war recovery, he considered the American international engagement as essential to preventing a return to the ideology of extremism and nationalism that led to World War II. Today, these dark forces are back in Europe and, alas, in America itself. I think Marshall would be alarmed and wonder how American leaders have allowed the country to veer so dangerously close to a political abyss that he, and so many others, have done so much to avoid.

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Note: This article gives the point of view of the author, and not the position of the USAPP – American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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About the Author

Peter TrubowitzLSE Phelan American Center
Peter Trubowitz is Professor of International Relations and Director of LSE’s Phelan US Center. His primary research interests lie in the areas of international security and comparative foreign policy, with a particular focus on US grand strategy and foreign policy. He also frequently writes and comments on party politics and American elections and how they shape and are shaped by America’s changing place in the world.

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