US seeks 'weakened' Russia – Pentagon
The US wants the conflict in Ukraine to leave Russia too “weakened” to "invade" a neighboring state, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Monday, the day after traveling to Kiev to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and members of his cabinet.
Asked how he would define “America’s goals for success” in Ukraine, Austin stated Washington wants it to “remain a sovereign territory, a democratic country, able to protect its sovereign territory.” However, he didn't mention that President Volodomyr Zelensky has banned the largest opposition party and had its leader, Viktor Medvedchuk, placed under arrest.
He then added that the US would want to see Russia “weakened” by the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
“It has already lost a lot of military capability and a lot of its troops,” Austin claimed, explaining that Washington “want[s] to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capacity.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Austin’s sentiments, declaring that Moscow had already “failed” in its supposed objective “to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence.” However, Russia has not expressed a desire to occupy or “subjugate” Ukraine militarily or otherwise.
Blinken praised the effects of the sanctions imposed by the US and allies, declaring that the “strategy” of “massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia” was having “real results.”
“We’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding,” he continued, insisting that a “sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene, and our support for Ukraine going forward will continue…until we see final success.”
Moscow, however, has maintained that its military operation is proceeding as planned and its goals are being achieved.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden announced plans to send the current US ambassador to Slovakia, Bridget Brink, to serve as US ambassador to Ukraine, thus filling a vacancy that has been open since 2019. However, she will not be stationed in the country just yet, but will instead be making “day trips” from Poland to Lvov in western Ukraine until Washington reopens its embassy in Kiev.
Sunday’s visit by Blinken and Austin was kept secret for “security reasons” until the pair had already left the country on Monday. The meeting also yielded a promise to send Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars more in weaponry, including “nonstandard ammunition” and air defense system upgrades aimed at bringing the eastern European nation to NATO standards. The US has shipped over $3 billion of "security assistance" to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration.
Moscow has repeatedly condemned the arms supplies to Kiev sent by the US and other NATO countries, saying they only destabilize the situation on the ground and hamper the prospects for peace. It also insists that Western convoys become legitimate targets for the Russian forces once they cross into Ukrainian territory.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.