US moves closer to Kyiv as top officials see echoes of Cuba

U.S. lawmakers, meanwhile, are invoking Ukraine as they attempt to punish Saudi Arabia for an OPEC oil production cut that could help Russia and deepen an energy crisis that is already testing its resolve. the western alliance. There is also bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill in support of boosting Ukraine’s ability to defend against missile strikes and drone attacks as anger erupts against Russian leader Vladimir Putin over his threats to nuclear retaliation.

Taken together, the developments underscore America’s commitment to cooperation with Kyiv, even as Biden remains keen to avoid direct conflict between the United States and Russia and the war drags on with no end in sight. The impending winter months promise to further slow momentum and strain supply lines on the battlefield.

« We are in a situation that we have not seen since the Cuban [missile] crisis », President of the Senate of the Armed Forces Jack Reed (DR.I.) told POLITICO in an interview. « The more we can do to secure Ukraine’s airspace and help protect the Ukrainian people is something we need to do. »

Reed’s comments echoed recent ones from Biden, who used the term « Armageddon » when referring to Putin’s ongoing tough talk.

In addition to Reed, powerful Republicans on the Hill are also pushing the Biden administration to do more to help secure Ukraine from the air and prevent more strikes like those that hit Kyiv earlier this week.

representing Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States should respond by immediately sending « longer-range artillery and additional air defense systems » to Ukraine.

Top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senator. jim risch of Idaho, went even further by also calling for the transfer of fighter jets. « Better armament and equipment from Ukraine will help save lives and give Ukraine the ability to end this war faster, » Risch said. « The Biden administration can and must do more to defend Ukraine. »

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted on Tuesday that it has long been Washington, not Kyiv, that has been in the driving seat against Moscow. « It seems to me that the Americans have been de facto participants in this war for a long time, » Lavrov told Russian state television, according to Reuters. « This war is controlled by the Anglo-Saxons. »

This allegation ignores the fact that, up to this point in the conflict, Western authorities had followed the course by sending ammunition to Ukraine – making sure it had enough to defend itself, but stopping short of supplying weapons that could be used to escalate the war. .

And tensions had flared between the US and Ukraine over the appropriate response to Russia’s actions: US officials were furious when Ukrainians detonated a car bomb in Moscow in August that killed the daughter of a promising Russian analyst. The public release of information about the plot in recent days was, in part, to warn Ukraine not to repeat a similar act of provocation, according to an official familiar with the matter.

But Putin’s indiscriminate bombardment of civilian targets such as parks, playgrounds and a popular pedestrian bridge has tightened the US-Ukrainian alliance. During his call with Zelenskyy, Biden reiterated his vow from this summer’s NATO summit in Madrid that the United States would stand by Ukraine « as long as it takes » to thwart NATO’s aggression. Russia.

America’s goal is also to prevent NATO allies from succumbing to what US officials see as Putin’s goal: to break the will of the Western alliance by terrorizing Ukraine with missiles. launched against civilian targets while plunging Europe into a winter that could foment economic difficulties and doubts. on the allocation of resources to Kyiv.

However, weapons alone will not support the Ukrainians if Moscow continues to get lifelines like the one OPEC countries provided when they decided last week to cut oil production, angering officials Americans and Europeans who wanted increased production to help further starve Russia’s energy revenues.

The move prompted top US lawmakers to call for an immediate freeze on US-Saudi security cooperation, including halting all arms sales to the kingdom and withdrawing all US troops and equipment. Senate leaders are also considering legislation that targets OPEC for price fixing and antitrust violations.

“If they don’t care about international security and the stability of the global economy, why should we help them? said the senator. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the armed services and intelligence committees, echoing calls to cut American cooperation with the kingdom.

The Saudi actions have also angered many in the Biden administration, particularly after the president visited Riyadh this summer in a bid to ease tensions. White House spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Biden would work « immediately » with Congress to reevaluate the US-Saudi relationship, although he did not give specifics.

For many Ukraine supporters, this action cannot come soon enough as Western governments fear energy prices will continue to rise if global supplies remain tight as Russia is cut off.

« The United States, the American people, the people of Western Europe are making sacrifices every day to support Ukraine, » Rep. Tom Malinowski (DN.J.) said on CNN on Tuesday. « Saudi Arabia has just decided to step up our sacrifices to aggravate our pain in order to help Putin. »

For years, many in Washington have ignored concerns about undemocratic actions and human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia in the name of promoting mutual security interests in the region, particularly to counter the Islamist regime in Iran. . Still, Biden administration officials see potential change on the horizon after the kingdom effectively sided with Russia.

« We tried to pull them to the right side of history as the international order is threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Saudi response is thank you, but we need higher oil prices. raised so the crown prince can build his ridiculous city in the desert,” an administration official told POLITICO, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

In New York, the United States worked with the United Kingdom and European Union countries to pressure a range of countries to support the resolution chastising Russia before the General Assembly. Russia vetoed a similar resolution at the UN Security Council last month.

While Russia has no veto power to exercise in the General Assembly, many countries – for historical, economic and other reasons – have refused to take sides between the West and Moscow. The goal this time around, for the United States and its allies, is to get at least some of those countries — many of them in Africa or Latin America — to move from yes to abstention.

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to provide recorded comments, said the US side is « very confident » of winning the motion with more than 100 votes, but wants to get as much support as possible. There are 193 member states of the UN.

Despite latest US efforts to bolster Ukrainians, Biden team insists US still has no intention of putting US troops on the battlefield and directly confronting another power nuclear.

“We are not looking for conflict with Russia. The president has been very clear about that,” Kirby said, adding, “Nobody wants to see this war escalate into the nuclear realm.

Cristina Gallardo and Lara Seligman contributed to this report.


Back to top button