What a Victory for Ukraine Should Look Like

Differences are growing within the Biden Administration over what kind of victory for Ukraine the United States should support. On the outcome of these discussions could depend not only the outcome of the war in Ukraine, but even conceivably the future of humanity.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has described a Ukrainian attempt to retake not just the Ukrainian territories seized by Russia over the past year, but Crimea (annexed by Russia in 2014) as a “red line” for Russia, that could lead Moscow to widen the war. The Washington Post has reported that U.S. officials have warned Kyiv that present levels of U.S. aid to Ukraine cannot be guaranteed, and that Ukrainian ambitions may have to be modified.

On the other hand, U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has recently identified herself with the Ukrainian government position that Ukraine must regain all its territory and will not compromise on this. Nuland declared that, “[W]e will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine is fighting for the return of all of its land within its international borders. We are supporting them, including in preparing a next hard push to regain their territory…Crimea must be—at a minimum, at a minimum—demilitarized.”

To judge by his latest speeches in Kyiv and Warsaw, President Biden himself appears not yet to have decided what the territorial goal of U.S. support to Ukraine should be. He has said that this must be a matter for the Ukrainians to decide, but has stopped short of endorsing their aim to recover Crimea.