The US backs Ukraine’s goal of forcefully retaking territories that have voted to join Russia, and rejects the notion of a peace deal, at this time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken disclosed on Monday.
Speaking after a wave of Russian missile strikes took out Ukrainian military and infrastructure targets on Monday, Blinken told a Wall Street Journal summit that the US would continue to arm Ukraine and bankroll its economy until it could “take back territory that’s been seized from it since February 24th.”
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has vowed to retake the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye, all of which voted to join the Russian Federation in September. Zelensky has also promised to seize Crimea, a historic part of Russia that voted to rejoin in 2014.
Asked whether it is “really realistic” to think that Ukraine could capture Crimea, Blinken did not answer directly. Instead he said that “fundamentally, Ukrainians are making the decisions about where they want to go, when they want to get there, how they want to do it.”
The US has committed around $68 billion to Ukraine this year, with the Biden administration asking Congress earlier this month to approve another $37.7 billion before January. President Joe Biden has promised to keep the aid flowing to Zelensky “for as long as it takes,” but a split has seemingly emerged in Washington between those pushing Ukraine to keep fighting – Biden and Blinken – and those suggesting that Kiev sue for peace. Top US General Mark Milley placed himself in the latter camp when he said last month that the probability of Ukraine retaking its pre-February territory “is not high, militarily.”
Blinken said on Monday that while the conflict “will end almost certainly with diplomacy,” a ceasefire that freezes the current battle lines would be “a phony peace.”