In Washington, after the midterms, questions about the strategy in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden attends an emergency meeting with G7 members following a missile strike on Polish soil not far from the Ukrainian border in Nusa Dua, Indonesia on 16 November 2022.

Nine months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has cause for satisfaction. Despite occasional differences in appreciation, cohesion with the allies remains strong, as the American president and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, should underline on Thursday 1is December, at the White House. The Ukrainian resistance, heavy with sacrifices, made it possible to thwart all the Kremlin’s plans. And Western arms deliveries for the benefit of kyiv represent an investment that is both substantial and very profitable, given the decrepitude of the Russian army caused without the deployment of regular allied troops.

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Despite this provisional assessment, concerns are beginning to arise about the sustainability of the American strategy, while no credible prospect for negotiations is emerging with the approach of winter. These questions relate both to the realistic goals that the Ukrainians could achieve – in particular the Crimea issue – and the solidity of Western support, faced with a growing weariness of public opinion. In a poll published in early November by the Wall Street Journal, the erosion of the support of the American population for Ukraine was clearly apparent. Nearly 30% of respondents believed that the Biden administration is doing too much to help this country, compared to 6% in March, in the weeks following the Russian invasion. This shift is especially massive among Republicans (48%).

“The United States does not put pressure on Ukraine”, explained, on November 10, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, a few days after a new visit to kyiv. The American Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, however raised the possibility of a “diplomatic opening” if the fighting slows down in the coming months. But the official line remains unchanged: it is up to the victim – Ukraine – to determine the parameters of its response.. “We never recognized the so-called annexation of Crimea by Russiaunderlined John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, during a meeting with the French press on 29 November. It’s up to Mr. Zelensky [le président ukrainien] to determine how, when, and under what circumstances he will negotiate with Vladimir Putin. »

The cancellation at the last minute by Moscow, on November 28, of the bilateral meeting scheduled for the next day in Cairo with an American delegation to discuss the application of the New Start arms control treaty, is a clear sign of mutual mistrust. from the moment. Calling this postponement a “deeply regrettable”Mr. Kirby clarified that the White House “They buy some[ait] still not exactly » the reasons that motivated Moscow. The US official stressed the importance of communication channels with Russia at all levels, including military.

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