/ Go to the mediabankMichael McFaul back during his days as the US’s ambassador to Russia. / Go to the mediabankInternationalIndiaAfricaThe US sabotaged Russia-Ukraine peace talks last spring, prolonging the crisis for a year and ramping up military support to Kiev so that the Ukrainians would be ready to “fight” Russia “to the last person,” as Senator Lindsey Graham put it. 11 months later, some in Washington fear the NATO proxy war against Russia may be approaching its end.The “stalemate” on the front in Ukraine is troubling, and may be a sign that Kiev has run out of steam, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has said.“The bad news thinking about where we’re at right now is, it is a kind of trench warfare stalemated war…The battlefield moves by inches or yards or kilometers, but not many kilometers. It’s been basically stuck for several months, and that makes me nervous. That makes me nervous about the ability of the Ukrainians to hold on and to keep us engaged in the long haul,” McFaul said, speaking to former Obama advisor David Axelrod in the latter’s radio show on Thursday.The former diplomat shared an anecdote about how, near the end of his term as ambassador in Russia in 2014, an official close to President Putin told him that “‘one thing you gotta remember: first, we care more about Ukraine than you do, and second, you guys have short attention spans in the West, you Americans. We don’t. We can stay for the long haul.’ I think about that conversation every time because that’s exactly what Putin is counting on now. He’s gonna stay as long as it takes and he believes he has the manpower to do it…But he’s really counting on us to lose interest and say ‘why are we fighting there anyway’?”McFaul criticized the Biden administration’s strategy of “incrementalism” in sending arms to Ukraine, urging Washington to “go all in” and give Kiev long-range missile systems, jets, Reaper drones, etc. “The concept is big bang now, not this creeping incrementalism,” he said.The former diplomat said the weapons are needed “now” because Ukrainian officials “don’t believe time is on their side.”“I talk to Ukrainians every day. What I hear in their voice, including President Zelensky and his team is urgency. When they hear Western officials say ‘we’re going to be with you for as long as it takes’” at the recent Munich Security Council, “Ukrainians that I was sitting in the audience with, they focused on the word ‘long’. They don’t want a long war because they don’t think they can sustain a long war, one because they’re going to run out of soldiers and two, they’re worried they’re gonna run out of support from the West,” McFaul said.WorldChinese Military Experts Forecast Ukraine Conflict’s End in Summer 2023, Reports SayYesterday, 10:33 GMTKiev sees 2023 as a critical year, and may stage “some kind of counteroffensive to break what the Russians have in the north from Crimea,” according to Mcfaul. “That’s what everybody says. They wanna cut Crimea off from the Donbass. Now when everybody says that’s what they’re gonna do I get a little skeptical. I wonder is that what they’re wanting us to believe or is that what they’re really gonna do. But my sense is they feel like they need to do something, and so my argument is: give them everything,” the former diplomat said.McFaul dismissed Washington’s fears of sparking an escalation with Moscow, suggesting all that Russia has left is the nuclear option. “It’s a big card and it’s a scary card, and I don’t wanna pretend I know with certainty what Putin would do if he feels like he’s losing. But I also don’t wanna pretend that others that predict with certainty that he would use a nuclear weapon understand Putin better than I do,” he boasted.AnalysisNPT & New START: How US Disrupted Strategic Nuclear Balance for the Sake of Dominance6 March, 18:50 GMT
Insights Into Washington’s Thinking on Ukraine
McFaul also let slip the type of logic behind US thinking on the need to keep pumping billions of dollars into Ukraine, affirming thinking by some Russian observers that for Washington, the crisis in Ukraine isn’t really about Ukraine at all, but a matter of prestige, both internationally and domestically.
“We want Putin to lose and we want Xi Jinping to learn the lessons of that. We don’t want Xi Jinping to help Putin win. Because I think it sends a signal to the world that we put all this money in, we backed him, and our guy still loses, right, President Zelensky? That’s a bad signal not just to Beijing but to 4-5 dozen countries around the world that are kind of sitting on the sidelines – the Indians, the South Africans, the Israelis, who are just saying ‘we don’t wanna take sides in this war’. We want them to take sides and therefore we need to help Ukraine win. And by the way, the American people like winners too,” McFaul said.
McFaul served as US ambassador to Russia between 2011-2014. Moscow slapped him with an entry ban in 2016 for “intentionally damaging” Russia-US ties. During his time in Russia, the theorist of Color Revolutions visited with leaders of street protests plotting to overthrow the Russian government during the so-called “White Ribbon” or “Snow Revolution” of 2011-2012.
McFaul’s warning that authorities in Kiev no longer believe “time is on their side” contrasts with rhetoric used by senior US officials and Washington think tanks assuring that the US can outwit, outplay and outlast Russia in the Ukrainian crisis.His comments also contradict the strategy taken by the West over the past 11 months amid media reports that the Ukrainian conflict could have been stopped last spring, had now-former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson not flown to Kiev on Washington’s behalf in April 2022 to push Zelensky to back out of a peace agreement with Moscow. Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appeared to corroborate these reports last month, saying that in his conversations with both Zelensky and Putin in the early months of the crisis, both men expressed readiness to make “big concessions” in the interest of peace, but that the deal ended up being “blocked” by the US and its allies.WorldScholz and Macron Reportedly Tell Zelensky to ‘Start Considering Peace Talks With Russia’25 February, 14:58 GMT