In promising Ukraine billions of dollars in long-term military aid, the Biden administration is seeking to demonstrate that American support in the war can outlast Russia’s resolve.
Rallying American lawmakers and the public around that aid, and billions of immediate assistance, was relatively easy for President Biden. But he must also keep Europe going because the Russian invasion has sent energy prices soaring and created what could become the continent’s worst economic crisis in a generation.
US officials insist they have not seen any cracks in the NATO alliance, whose members have, to varying degrees, agreed to assist Ukraine in defending the homeland. Ukraine’s recent battlefield successes, from routing Russian troops in the northeast to isolating Russian units in the south, will also help bolster resolve in Europe, US officials say.
But soaring energy prices in Europe, and the prospect of bare homes in the cold months ahead, have led to anxiety. Russia has heightened those concerns by recently announcing that Gazprom, the state-owned energy company, will not continue the flow of natural gas to Europe through Nord Stream 1 . pipeline.
Mr. Putin, a military and diplomatic analyst, believes the gas shortage will weaken European support for Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that Russia has “weaponized energy” against the Europeans.
“President Putin is betting that these actions will break the will of countries to side with Ukraine,” he said at NATO headquarters in Belgium earlier this month. “He is betting that the Kremlin can bully other countries into submission.”
Blinken’s visit to NATO and to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, comes at a time when Ukrainian forces are beginning to make significant gains across the northeastern region of their country.
Pentagon officials say a decree which Putin signed last month, raising the target number of active servicemen to about 137,000 to 1.15 million, is another sign that he believes Russia can still win the war. consumption.
“He’s signaling that he’s trying to explain this,” a senior defense official said in an interview. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
With the midterm elections approaching, this is where President Biden stands.
Biden, for his part, is determined to show that NATO’s commitment remains unwavering. During a stopover in Ukraine this month, Mr. Blinken announced another round of military aid – about 1 billion dollars for Ukraine but also 1 billion dollars for other European allies and partners.
“Our support of Ukraine has set an example for the world,” said Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Wyoming. , said and added that support for Ukraine among US allies remains strong. “How that will continue after winter, when the price of rooftop heating for people in Europe is uncertain, in my view. I just hope we can stick together and provide the support Ukraine needs.”
“Vladimir Putin seems to believe that Russia can win the long-term game – outperforming the Ukrainians in terms of the will to fight and the will of the international community to continue to support Ukraine,” said Colin Kahl, Secretary of State policy department, said at a press conference. last month. He called that belief “another Russian miscalculation.”
During a visit to Kyiv, Blinken said that the United States and its allies must work to “maintain the brave defenders of Ukraine over the long haul.”
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“That means the stream of competencies continues and is defined now,” he said.
Much of that flow comes from the US.
But material support to Ukraine from Europe has faded. Total new commitments in military and financial aid from six of the largest European countries decreased in May and fell sharply in Juneaccording to an analysis by the Kiel Institute for World Economics.
In July, the last month for which data was available, none of those countries – the UK, Germany, Poland, France, Italy and Spain – made any significant new commitments.
“We are surprised that aid has basically gone to zero, especially from the major European powers,” said Christoph TrebeschDirector of the Institute of International Finance and Macroeconomics, and leader of the analysis team.
Mr. Trebesch noted that European countries were still distributing aid announced months ago, and some of it was sent in secret. However, he added, new data shows that material assistance to Ukraine, especially the transfer of military equipment, could become scarce.
“All of this is more towards financial impasse than funding Ukrainian counterintelligence agencies,” Trebesch said. “It seems more about preserving the status quo than actually allowing Ukraine to do something serious, both militarily and financially.”
Analysts say Germany in particular has fallen, despite its earlier rhetoric.
Markus Kaima senior fellow for international security at the German Institute for International and Security, said he and other analysts were “absolutely surprised” at first by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s commitment to significant increase in military spending arrive support Ukraine “as long as it is needed” and finally Eliminate country dependency Russian energy.
But policy changes since then have been less dramatic, he said.
Critics say the German government not done enough to help Ukraine. A particularly notable point is that Germany refuses to send Leopard 2 . main battle tank to Ukraine. Mr. Scholz and his government ministers said that the German army’s arsenal was too exhausted to send heavier equipment and that it did not want Germany to be the first country to send modern Western tanks to Ukraine.
Germany has announced a 100 billion euros ($113 billion) in defense funding increased this year. Even so, it would fall short of NATO’s goal of each member spending at least 2% of gross domestic product on its defense each year, a goal Mr. Scholz promised to meet. According to the forecast of the German Economic Institute, a consulting organization based in Cologne.
Jeffrey Rathke, a former senior US diplomat and president of American Institute for Contemporary German Studiessaid Germany and other European countries would be in a stronger position to continue to oppose Russia this winter.
“When you look at public opinion,” Mr. Rathke said, “you see what I call the willingness of the German public to be led to further steps and sacrifices in order to achieve strategic goals. support Ukraine and preserve Europe. political order. ”
Christian Molling, a research director at the German Council on Foreign Relationshe also said he was optimistic that Europe would continue to show a united front against Russia but added that public disagreements on the issue would continue.
“It will be noisy, at times dirty, compared to the policy debates at the height of the pandemic and the European debt crisis,” Mr. Mölling said.
However, he added, “we’re discussing all of this publicly because that’s how democracies do it.”
Emily Cochrane contribution report.