Only Putin can end the war – but he’s escalating its brutal toll and spillover potential
US warns China not to offer Russia ‘lifeline’
The war is getting more dangerous
The Russian president’s escalation of his brutal attack over the weekend – bringing the conflict close to NATO territory in Poland and pouring missiles and artillery into civilian areas devastated by a worsening humanitarian crisis – suggests he is far from ready for a ceasefire.
In fact, the war is only getting more dangerous and threatening to spiral out of control after Moscow told the US it would target Western arms supplies to the Ukrainian armed forces that have helped slow the Russian advance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Sunday evening that it was only a matter of time before Russian missiles would fall on NATO territory — as he renewed his call for the alliance to close the skies over his country.
###: Putin Has Already Lost The Russia-Ukraine War, Here’s Why
While some comments from Ukrainian, Russian and US officials raised the possibility of progress in negotiations between Kiev and Moscow, which will resume on Monday, Putin defied an appeal from French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday. for an immediate ceasefire. And there is every sign that the Russian leader, despite presiding over an invasion that has turned Russia into an economic and diplomatic pariah, is planning to press hard and destroy Ukraine in order to fulfill his personal ambition to prevent it from ever join the West.
The pain of Ukrainian citizens is only getting worse. An already dire situation is worsening in the besieged city of Mariupol, where more than 2,000 civilians have died, according to city officials. There is no electricity, water or heat and people have almost no food and water left. There are also reports of extensive damage in the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipro, Chernihiv and Sumy, which have been incessantly bombed by Russia. And an American journalist and filmmaker, Brent Renaud, was killed by Russian troops on Sunday, police said in Kiev, while another American journalist was injured. The exact circumstances of the attack have yet to be determined.
None of these developments suggest that the war is approaching a point where ceasefire negotiations or peace talks can succeed. And the risks of wider conflict seem to be growing.
US warns China not to offer Russia ‘lifeline’
In fact, the story of the invasion, which was initially dominated by the heroic resistance of the outnumbered Ukrainians and Zelensky, seems to be taking a dark turn. Putin seems impervious to the human toll his actions have caused in a conflict that could be critical to his own ability to stay in power in Moscow.
In another new dimension of what threatens to become a wider geopolitical showdown, the United States warned China that it must not provide a “lifeline” to help Russia evade sanctions strangling its economy over its brutal invasion, ahead of crucial talks between senior US and Chinese officials in Europe on Monday.
During a speech on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan delivered a grim message to Beijing, which has shown no sign of leaning on the Russian leader to end the war. to end. He told Dana Bash that Washington was “closely monitoring the extent to which China is actually providing any kind of aid, material or economic aid to Russia.”
“We are communicating directly, privately with Beijing, that there will be absolutely ramifications for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or aid to Russia to complement them,” Sullivan said. “We will not allow this to continue and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world.” Sullivan, who will meet with a Chinese counterpart in Rome on Monday, did not say whether Chinese companies or government agencies would face sanctions if they helped Russia.
The reason for the warning became clear when a senior US official said on Sunday that Russia had asked China for military aid, including drones. Russia also asked for economic support, according to another US official familiar with the matter who declined to describe China’s response in detail but said they had responded.
When asked by CNN about coverage of Russia’s request for military aid, Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in the US, said in a statement: “I’ve never heard of that.”
The request can be read as a sign of increasing Russian despair. Any Chinese aid to Moscow would also increase the strategic significance of the war in Ukraine and could entrench the longstanding American nightmare of a strategic pact between Beijing and Moscow at a time when China is emerging as America’s greatest superpower rival of the 21st century. Before the invasion, Putin traveled to China to meet with President Xi Jinping, where the two sides agreed to a borderless friendship. There were reports that the Russian leader promised to invade Ukraine only at the end of the recent Beijing Winter Olympics. Some Western officials hope China will use its newfound influence to help end the war. But in recent days, Beijing’s official media has magnified false Russian propaganda that the US has a chemical and biological weapons laboratory in Ukraine, which US officials fear may foreshadow Russia’s use of such weapons in the war.
There is no publicly available indication that Beijing is aiding Putin’s war effort — and there are reasons why China may not see its interests in this situation as fully reflecting Moscow’s. It is widely believed that Xi will run for a historic third term in power this fall at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party in Beijing. During such an important year, the Chinese government could be wary of its companies facing domino sanctions. Rising oil prices could harm the economy in the long run at a time when runaway growth rates are slowing.
Western and international sanctions have plunged Russia’s economy and banking system into a deep crisis, but the extreme pain they will inflict may not come soon enough to save Ukraine from Putin’s relentless barrage. Any Chinese aid, if it were to happen, could weaken the Western stranglehold on the Russian economy and ease political pressure on Putin for a change of course.
The war is getting more dangerous
Putin is stepping up its bombing of Ukraine instead of stepping back.
In an alarming new expansion of the war, Russian missiles fired by planes over the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov hit a military base near Lviv, killing at least 35 people on Sunday, local authorities said. The target was perilously close to NATO member Poland’s border. While President Joe Biden has said he will not send US troops to Ukraine, he has vowed to defend “every inch” of the Western alliance’s territory.
Another sign of Putin’s aggressive intentions was that, after being trapped in the country for more than three weeks, his troops were within 25 miles of the capital Kiev, British intelligence said on Saturday.
On Sunday, there were conflicting signals in Europe and Washington about the prospects of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials, which have yielded little progress so far, as well as a broader international diplomatic effort to get Putin to agree to a ceasefire. . US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman argued to Fox that the pressure of sanctions was beginning to affect the Russian leader.
“We’re seeing some signs of a willingness to engage in some really serious negotiations,” Sherman said. But she added: “It looks like Vladimir Putin plans to destroy Ukraine.” Sullivan was gloomy about the prospects for diplomacy over the State of the Union, saying Putin “doesn’t look like he’s ready to stop the attack.”
Still, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said he thinks the talks could “bring concrete results” in the coming days since Russia started talking “constructively”. And Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Russian delegation to the talks, said “significant progress” has been made in negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation since the start, Russia’s state news agency RIA reported.
But the parties seem far apart in principle – with Ukraine demanding a withdrawal of Russian troops. Moscow entered the conflict, calling on NATO to withdraw troops from former Warsaw Pact states in Eastern Europe, which is even less likely now that Russia is dealing with Ukraine.
And nothing Putin has done so far suggests he is considering a reversal of a plan that has devastated large parts of Ukraine and now appears to be targeting Kiev for the decisive battle.
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN