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The New York Times editorial board called out President Biden for failing to articulate a clear strategy on Ukraine.
In a piece published Thursday, the Times echoed the warnings from DNI Avril Haines that the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia may shift towards “a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory” and while Congress passed another $40 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine, the bipartisan nature is on shaky grounds as some Republicans are decrying a potential never-ending conflict for the U.S. to be involved in.
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“These are extraordinary costs and serious dangers, and yet there are many questions that President Biden has yet to answer for the American public with regard to the continued involvement of the United States in this conflict,” the editorial board wrote.
The board revived its message back in March about supporting a commitment to Ukraine’s freedom and that the U.S. must lead in providing support for the country suffering from Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
“That goal cannot shift, but in the end, it is still not in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions,” the Times told readers. “And the U.S. aims and strategy in this war have become harder to discern, as the parameters of the mission appear to have changed.”
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The Times laid out several questions for the Biden administration like is the U.S. “trying to help bring an end to this conflict” through a peace agreement or is it “trying to weaken Russia permanently,” whether the U.S. will hold Russian President Vladimir Putin “accountable as a war criminal” and “is the goal to try to avoid a wider war — and if so, how does crowing about providing U.S. intelligence to kill Russians and sink one of their ships achieve this?”
“Without clarity on these questions, the White House not only risks losing Americans’ interest in supporting Ukrainians — who continue to suffer the loss of lives and livelihoods — but also jeopardizes long-term peace and security on the European continent,” the board warned the Biden administration. “Americans have been galvanized by Ukraine’s suffering, but popular support for a war far from U.S. shores will not continue indefinitely. Inflation is a much bigger issue for American voters than Ukraine, and the disruptions to global food and energy markets are likely to intensify.”
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The board urged Biden “to make the case to American voters” ahead of the November midterms that helping Ukraine is supporting “democratic values” and self-defense of a nation’s own sovereignty while stressing that “peace and security remain the ideal outcome in this war.”
It also called out Biden’s declaration that Putin “cannot remain in power,” Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin’s comment that Russia must be “weakened,” as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s vow that the U.S. will back Ukraine “until victory is won,” saying such comments “do not bring negotiations any closer.”
“In the end, it is the Ukrainians who must make the hard decisions: They are the ones fighting, dying and losing their homes to Russian aggression, and it is they who must decide what an end to the war might look like. If the conflict does lead to real negotiations, it will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand,” the Times wrote.
“But as the war continues, Mr. Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the 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 means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain.”
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The Times continued, “Confronting this reality may be painful, but it is not appeasement. This is what governments are duty bound to do, not chase after an illusory ‘win.’ Russia will be feeling the pain of isolation and debilitating economic sanctions for years to come, and Mr. Putin will go down in history as a butcher. The challenge now is to shake off the euphoria, stop the taunting and focus on defining and completing the mission. America’s support for Ukraine is a test of its place in the world in the 21st century, and Mr. Biden has an opportunity and an obligation to help define what that will be.”