Truce ‘far off’ as US adds fuel with aid plans amid Zelensky’s visit
Sustained commitment serves to weaken Russia, undermine EU
Published: Dec 22, 2022 10:21 PM
US President Joe Biden walks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky through the colonnade of the White House, in Washington, DC on December 21, 2022. Photo: AFP

US President Joe Biden walks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky through the colonnade of the White House, in Washington, DC on December 21, 2022. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Washington showed that he was making great efforts to make "supporting Ukraine to fight Russia" an "unchallengeable political correctness" in the US, while Republicans and Democrats have shown diverging opinions on the matter recently, said analysts, and since Russia is also preparing for long-term conflict, the crisis is still far from a peaceful solution.  

In his speech on Wednesday, Zelensky thanked lawmakers and the US public for their broad and bipartisan support, and said sustained commitments would be critical. The address to both chambers of US Congress came just weeks before Republicans are set to take control of the House with a pledge to more closely scrutinize Washington's assistance to Kiev, according to media reports.

Chinese analysts said it's clear that Zelensky's visit will help the White House get more assistance plans passed by the US Congress, and to ensure no US politician dares to challenge the policy of supporting Ukraine, while the endless conflict and worsening economic situation are making more and more people from the Western world question the necessity of supporting Kiev to continue its fight with Russia. 

Just before his arrival, the US announced a new $1.8 billion military aid package, including Patriot surface-to-air missiles for the first time. Congress also planned to vote this week on a fresh spending package that includes about $45 billion in additional emergency assistance to Ukraine, AP reported.

The speech to Congress came after President Joe Biden hosted Zelensky in the Oval Office for strategy consultations, saying the US and Ukraine would maintain their "united defense" as Russia wages a "brutal assault on Ukraine's right to exist as a nation," according to AP.

Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has actually reached a stalemate, and Ukraine is now facing a shortage of military equipment. 

"Zelensky is requesting more weapons from the US and Europe so that his country can continue to persist in this war of attrition," Zhang noted.

So far, the West's assistance to Ukraine has not been weakened, and almost all of Ukraine's demands for economic and military assistance have been met, Zhang said, adding that the more than $50 billion in financial aid that the US and Europe have pledged to Ukraine in 2023 will keep it from collapsing on the front lines.

Maintaining military supplies to Kiev means the US has totally ignored Russia's warning that doing so could make the situation worse, said experts. 

Russia on Thursday accused Ukraine and the US of turning a deaf ear to its concerns after Zelensky's visit to the US.

Russia said that US supplies of Patriot missile systems to Ukraine would not contribute to settling the conflict or prevent Russia from achieving its goals.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that his visit to Washington suggests that the US "is continuing its line of de facto fighting an indirect war with Russia"

Russia's defense minister called for Moscow's military to be expanded by at least 500,000 troops.

"The US' provocative actions in Ukraine will inevitably lead to escalation, the consequences of which could be unpredictable," Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday, commenting on the Ukrainian president's visit to Washington, TASS reported.

Endless crisis

Although some Republican politicians have questioned the assistance to Ukraine or are asking for closer scrutiny of the assistance plan, supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia is still a consensus shared by the US' two parities, said military expert Song Zhongping.

The US' mid-term elections affected its internal affairs to some extent, but there will not be much substantial adjustment in the policy of aiding Ukraine. After all, it is considered to be an important measure in maintaining the US global hegemony system and making sure the security situation in Europe is dominated by the US, which is fundamentally in line with the strategic interests of US hegemony, Zhang said.

"In other words, maintaining military supplies to Ukraine will help the US weaken not only Russia but also undermine the EU, which is also in a competitive relationship with the US in terms of economy. The US doesn't need to pay too great a price, or Ukraine is the price that the US would love to pay to realize such a great strategy," Song noted. 

Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times that Zelensky is likely to receive a large amount of military aid from the US after the visit, which will give Ukraine the confidence to continue fighting against Russia, and also make peace negotiations more difficult.

Experts said that both Russia and the West are actually making various preparations for a long-term war, and the West has institutionalized financial and military assistance to Ukraine. Although all stakeholders are saying that they are willing to negotiate, the conflict will be difficult to resolve through negotiations in a short period of time due to excessive differences of opinion on the matter.

For Ukraine, accepting Russia's occupation of its territory and restarting negotiations without retaking the regions controlled by Russian forces is impossible, so it will keep fighting and the conflict is far from ending. To what extent the US and other Western countries keep up their support will determine how long Kiev can keep up the fight, analysts said.

Compared to the US, European countries are wavering more on the plan to support Ukraine, as European people are being impacted more directly by the Ukraine crisis, and the worsening economic situation and social problems will increase war weariness among the European countries, so voices that question or oppose assistance to Ukraine will grow in the future, Song noted. 

There is another possibility that could shake the determination of the West in its support of Ukraine - Russia realizes key victories in the battlefields or Ukraine suffers unbearable military losses that mean no assistance can change the result, said some analysts. 

In the short term, Russia is unlikely or incapable of launching another round of massive operations, but is preparing for more input into the conflict, and Moscow is trying to tell its own people as well as its enemies and rivals that it is ready for long-term conflict, which means it is confident of winning a war of attrition, so as losses increase for both sides, it's hard to say who will give up first, said experts.