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Why the West is losing Ukraine – POLITICO

Why the West is losing Ukraine – POLITICO

 


Not so dynamic duo

Beyond fear, diplomats and experts have pointed to the dynamic between Scholz and Biden as a driving force behind the West's overarching strategy of incrementalism and escalation management, rather than focusing on strategic results, in its relations with Ukraine. Despite a 16-year age difference, both men came of political age during the Cold War and widespread fears of nuclear armageddon. Both are deeply committed to the US-led international order and NATO's protection of Europe. Both are left-wingers who are instinctively wary of armed intervention and, by their temperament, are risk-averse and uncomfortable with geopolitical games, experts and diplomats say.

Biden, as we know, has always been ideologically opposed to the idea of ​​intervention and war or even his chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, declared the first diplomat. In this case, he is doing everything possible to avoid a confrontation with Russia. America was once strong on strategic ambiguity. But Biden has gone out of his way to communicate his decisions in advance throughout this conflict. In this sense, he found common ground with Chancellor Scholz, who is also cautious in nature.

A former far-left activist who traveled to Moscow as a youth and rose through the ranks of a German social-democratic party known for its historic sympathy toward Russia, Scholz was not naturally configured to be a Russia hawk . He has come a long way, but no one knows to what extent this legacy [of deference toward Russia] is always with him.

US President Joe Biden meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Experts also highlighted the key role of advisors, namely US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Foreign Policy Advisor Scholz Schmidt and Jens Pltner, in shaping their bosses' approach. Diplomats and experts consulted for this article described Sullivan as highly intelligent, inexperienced in national security, ultimately career-driven and somewhat short on emotional intelligence. Schmidt becomes inseparable from Scholz, very cautious, fundamentally terrified of Russia, not as great an expert on foreign policy as he thinks. Pltner, in turn, is portrayed as a very close, pro-Russia confidant, unconvinced by the narrative that an attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us.

Together these two [Sullivan and Schmidt] conceived the idea that Russia would eventually collapse and become discouraged, Hunter Christie said. This might have avoided nuclear war, but it stuck us between two suboptimal outcomes: a more serious war with Russia or the collapse of Ukraine, which would be a shock, a humiliation and a demonstration of Western weakness.

The role of other leaders in shaping Western policy should not be underestimated. Ukrainian sources tend to identify the United Kingdom, both under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as a staunch ally that helped break down Western reluctance to deliver certain weapons. They credit caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte with breaking a taboo on the delivery of Western fighter jets, as the Netherlands is currently preparing to deliver 24 F-16s to Ukraine later this year, according to the Dutch Ministry of Defense. The Nordic, Baltic, Central and Eastern European states, including Poland, get high marks from Ukrainian officials for the depth of their commitment to Ukraine's victory, exemplified by Denmark's recent decision to send all its artillery to Kiev.

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