In a recent hearing to the US Congress trying to convince the latter to approve another US$61 billion in aid for Ukraine to fight and defeat Russia, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that if Russia defeats Ukraine, US forces will be fighting Russian forces in (mainland) Europe soon. This will be a major conflict that could become World War Three. The propagation of the Russian ‘threat’ comes against the backdrop of a recent White House revelation that, unless fresh aid is approved, the US government will run out of funds to support Ukraine. This will be Russia’s victory in Ukraine, which could expand the conflict to other European countries. Propaganda aside, this is also an indication of the fact that the US capacity to fund Ukraine – and prolong the war as much as possible to make Russia bleed – is fast reaching its exhaustion point. The fact that the Republican members of the committee walked out of Austin’s briefing within two minutes shows that the political opinion in Washington is far from united vis-à-vis Ukraine and fighting long, costly and useless wars. What has recently increased the financial toll even further is the US support for Israel in the latter’s war on Gaza.
But Joe Biden is adamant. “We need to ensure Putin continues to fail in Ukraine and Ukraine to succeed,” he said, and added that “the best way for that to do that is to pass the supplemental” funding request. Echoing Biden and Austin – and reinforcing the ‘threat’ of a Russian takeover, Zelenskey asked the US opposition and said that, “I don’t know whose idea it is, but I have a question for these people: if they are ready to give up their children to terrorists. I think not.”
This is despite the fact that the Russian leadership essentially sees American military aid to Ukraine as part of Washington’s strategy to create a ‘black hole’ for Russia in Ukraine. One could say that the American strategy, motivated by the desire to maintain its own international hegemony, is to turn Ukraine into Russia’s Vietnam! The Russian leadership is very well aware of this, and understands that Ukraine might itself turn into a black hole for the US, absorbing material and human resources, unless sensible leadership prevails in Washington and takes a rational approach.
But, thus far, it remains that the US wants to defeat Russia in Ukraine in order to prevent any possibility of a new, multipolar world order from emerging – an order that Russia, alongside China, has been pushing for quite some time. Therefore, peace, unless it involves a Russian defeat, is counter-productive for the Americans. This is precisely why the Americans sabotaged the ‘Istanbul agreement’ in March 2022.
Only a month after the start of Russia’s special military operations in Ukraine, a mediation process that involved the then-Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennet and Turkey’s Erdoğan brought the Russian and Ukrainian leadership close to a peace agreement. However, this possibility of agreement was sabotaged by the US. In a recent, very revealing piece, Michael von der Schulenburg, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General, General (ret.) Harald Kujat, former highest-ranging German officer of the Bundeswehr and at NATO, and Hajo Funke, Professor Emeritus at Freie University Berlin, stated that the Ukrainian leadership at that time agreed that the reason for the conflict was NATO’s expansionist push. But, as the well-informed authors show,
“There is little doubt that these peace negotiations failed due to resistance from NATO and in particular from the USA and the UK. The reason is that such a peace agreement would have been tantamount to a defeat for NATO, an end to NATO’s eastward expansion and thus an end to the dream of a unipolar world dominated by the USA”.
The Biden administration is pushing for more funding in order to achieve this very objective, an objective that is critical for achieving other objectives, i.e., global domination within a US-led system and neutralising any potential challenge from other countries.
Russia is posing that threat of counter-hegemony. But, for the Biden administration, a domestic imperative is also prevalent. For them, a politically beneficial projection of that threat is when this threat is presented as a threat to the people themselves rather than the American domination of the world political system. It is for this reason that Austin talked about the possibility that American forces – sons and daughters of the Americans themselves – will be fighting the Russians in Europe very soon.
Now that the Russians are dominating the conflict in Ukraine and Russia has so far managed to withstand and pushback against the combined NATO forces, it is increasingly turning into a political nightmare for the Biden administration at a time when presidential elections are due in late 2024. If Biden fails in Ukraine, as he has thus far, he might not have a presidential future. Donald Trump is already politically resurgent, and if he wins back the presidency, the military conflict in Ukraine might come to an end.
Donald Trump is defeating Biden in terms of popular support already, latest surveys show. If Ukraine turns into an outright catastrophe for the US, this will energize the Republicans further. Trump, who pulled the US out of its war in Afghanistan and considerably reduced American military engagement in the Middle East, already thinks that the Russia-Ukraine military conflict can be resolved on the negotiating table. He has so far refused to commit to backing Ukraine up militarily. By pushing the threat of a Russian invasion of Europe – and invoking the threat of another World War – the Biden administration mainly wants to protect its political future. It is for this reason that the Biden administration, by hiding its own sabotage of the 2022 peace process, is shifting the blame to the Republicans, i.e., if Russian wins in Ukraine, it will only be due to the Republican’s decision to block military support for Ukraine.
Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.