E.U. ambassador in Washington: U.S. and European support for Ukraine will endure

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European and Ukrainian officials raised cautious eyebrows in the United States in the days leading up to the midterm elections. There were fears that US right-wing nationalists running in the shadow of former President Donald Trump could undermine the Biden administration, as polls indicated a potential anti-war “red wave” that would see Republicans return to power in Congress with a decisive majority. Plans to sustain Ukraine’s resistance to ongoing Russian aggression. Some Republican lawmakers and candidates have warned that the US will not be a “blank check” for Kyiv. Others argued that all funding should be ended.

A “red wave” did not occur. The vote counting continues and the nation seems to be edging toward narrow margins in both the House and Senate. In Europe, the poor performance of Trump-endorsed candidates led to sighs of relief. Still, as Reinhard Buttikofer, a German member of the European Parliament, said in a statement, with 2024 now on the horizon, “the EU has ample reason to prepare for further changes in its relationship with the United States.”

Weaker-than-expected GOP results calm Europe’s nerves — for now

Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU ambassador in Washington has a more confident view. In an interview the day after the election, he told me there is “no doubt there will be continuity” in US aid to Ukraine regardless of the political distribution of the next Congress. Their conversations on the Hill gave the impression of “unwavering bipartisan support for Ukraine, even as the people of this country talk about polarization on virtually every issue.”

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The United States and the EU’s 27 member states have committed billions of dollars in military and financial aid to Kyiv. There is a degree of consensus among senior leadership, both Democrats and Republicans, that this support should continue as long as Ukraine faces Russian aggression. This week, the European Commission announced a proposed package of around $18 billion to help the Ukrainian government meet its short-term financing needs in 2023.

“This is an existential battle for us.” Lambrinidis said Europe was committed to Ukraine “for as long as it takes”. That was no small feat: the war had exacted a bitter price on Europe; Its societies and economies are affected by major sanctions imposed on Russia by their governments. Cold winters and soaring heating costs are expected to add to the wider strains of the war, whose downstream effects could be a catalyst for the fall of the government in Sri Lanka and the onset of a possible famine in Somalia.

The war in Ukraine is exacting a brutal toll. The Pentagon believes that as many as 200,000 soldiers may have already died in the nine months of fighting — 100,000 Russians and an equal number of Ukrainians, along with about 40,000 civilians.

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Still, Western aid to Ukraine has put the country in a strong position to regain territory lost to Russia earlier this year. This week, after an apparent Russian retreat, Ukrainian troops entered the southern city of Kherson, which Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally claims is part of Russia after holding fake referendums in four republics controlled by the Kremlin and regions under its control. Separatist proxies.

Lambrinidis is aware of the need for this foreign support. In the absence of aid, “the chances of Putin prevailing are very high,” he said. That is not an outcome that US or European officials are willing to face.

Pentagon sends new air defenses to Ukraine as Russia pushes for key cities

The EU ambassador cast the war on Ukraine and Putin’s brinkmanship as a challenge to be faced. “This is a clear attempt by a very dangerous dictator with nuclear weapons to blackmail democracy,” Lambrinidis said. “And if they succeed, in the coming decades, Americans and Europeans’ ability and presence in the world will be dramatically reduced.”

That’s because in Lambrinidis’s eyes, “China’s junior partner” sets the precedent of a “triumphant Putin” leading to “a bolder China in the coming decades,” he said, triggering potential conflicts and conflicts. The revolution caused by the war in Ukraine in the shadows.

Rather, the current crisis has shown the strength of transatlantic relations. “The imperative of this partnership was not entirely anticipated by Putin,” Lambrinidis said, noting how the war has strengthened European investment in shared security and led to the imminent expansion of NATO with Finland and Sweden poised to enter into a military alliance.

The ambassador praised the Biden administration’s effectiveness in marshaling the collective response to the attack. Lambrinidis said that for Americans and Europeans, Putin’s war highlights “how our security and prosperity are interdependent.”

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Meanwhile, amid economic pain and public concern, European governments are trying to fast-track the transition toward renewable energy and pushing through stimulus packages to help ordinary citizens. “We are rapidly weaning Russia from fossil fuels at huge economic cost, while supporting our economies and people at huge cost.”

Biden’s Ukraine policy faces a bipartisan squeeze

Wary of dictating rules to Ukrainians, some Western officials prefer to say publicly how they believe the conflict should end.. Through back channels, the Biden administration has urged Ukraine to show it is open to talks, but the prospect of actual negotiations remains remote.

There is also the question of what Russia wants. “The two need to tango and Putin has given no indication that he is ready to have serious talks,” Lambrinidis said. “Our support for Ukraine is imperative for them to negotiate from a position of strength, or at least equality — and not with a Russian gun to their head.”

Rather than the famous chess grandmasters of the last century, Putin’s strategic impulses resemble those of an opportunistic poker player, said an EU diplomat, drawing on an analogy given to him by Russian dissident (and chess legend) Garry Kasparov.

“Every now and then Putin tries to push through like a poker player who wants you to fold,” Lambrinidis said. “Are we going to fold? We are not. “


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