President Biden's historic trip to Kyiv was intended to demonstrate continued American support and determination on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. The secret visit, which required a 10-hour train journey from Poland and was made despite the possibility of an attack by Russia, was also presented as a show of courage as the American President went to an active war zone. With his visit, which meant a challenge to Putin, Biden showed that he was determined in his policy of "support until the end" to ensure Russia's "strategic defeat".
During his five-hour visit, Biden announced a new $500 million military aid package and sanctions against Russia, in addition to the $25 billion in military aid so far. Although the U.S. is the country that helps the most, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland stand out as the countries that help the most compared to GNP. Biden attended the Warsaw 9th summit, which also included these countries after Kyiv. Underlining the Article 5 guarantee for NATO's newest members, Biden underlined the importance of aid to Ukraine in terms of the common defense of the alliance and democracies.
In his speech, Biden gave in Warsaw just after the invasion in March last year, the words "This man (Putin) cannot stay in power" led to discussions in Moscow that he wanted regime change. This year, the words that Ukraine will not be a victory for Russia, that democracies will prevail over autocracies, and that Putin miscalculated, came to the fore. Biden described Putin as a dictator and autocrat who thought NATO would not respond when he entered Ukraine. Biden, who did not mention the negotiations, saber rattled against Putin with harsh messages.
In his annual speech, Putin argued that they are at war with the West and that Russia is a target. It is difficult to understand how much the message of unity given by Putin, who claims that everything went as planned, received a response among the Russian people. Putin told the 200,000 people filling the Moscow stadium that the war was an existential struggle for Russia. Then, receiving Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Putin's warm messages about Chinese leader Xi aimed to show that he was not alone against the West.
Putin has announced that Russia is withdrawing from the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons, which it has not fulfilled since the summer. It is now very unlikely that Russia, which has more than 6,000 nuclear weapons, will return to arms limitation agreements in the coming period. It is clear that Putin's decision will bring further instability to the international system. Russia's withdrawal from the agreement creates a dangerous area of risk for the world, as it is a decision that makes it impossible for the two powers to establish a predictable and unconjunctural relationship in nuclear armament.
While conflicts are expected to intensify in the spring months in the Ukraine war, there are not many people who talk about a solution through negotiation and diplomacy. Biden and Putin's mutual harsh rhetoric shows this. On the first anniversary of the invasion attempt, both sides intended to convey the message that they are strong, that the friendly countries do not leave them alone and that they can continue the war 'to the end'. We can say that Biden and Putin's duel of words is not out of control for now. However, it is clear that the war will not end in a short time because there is no US pushing for a diplomatic solution or a Ukraine or Russia that says it is ready for negotiation.
The Biden administration's view of supporting Ukraine as part of a strategic and ideological struggle also reduces the possibility of a solution through negotiations. Highlighting the struggle of democracies against autocracies puts Ukraine's struggle for sovereignty in a broader framework. It is also clear that defeating Kyiv would endanger the future of Europe and spread the conflict. The US determination in Ukraine also aims to intimidate China against any military moves it may attempt. The continuation of US global leadership by keeping the Western alliance alive is at the top of Washington's list of priorities.
When the Ukraine war is viewed from such a framework, it is seen that the US prioritized the above-mentioned strategic goals before negotiation. It is in Washington's interests that Russia continues to bleed in a protracted war and that China acts cautiously, fearing the unity of the West. Although the conditions for Russia and Ukraine to sit at the negotiating table are not met, the Biden administration's failure to use words such as negotiation, peace and solution indicates that Russia prioritizes its strategic defeat.
Republicans, who have begun to voice their objections to the unconditional realization of American aid, may complicate Biden's strategy. Internal difficulties will reduce Biden's pressure on European allies. If Biden runs into problems at home, it may appear that support for Ukraine "to the end" is not shared by both parties. In such a case, Biden's influence on Europe may weaken and his harsh rhetorical war with Putin may remain as a move that does not go beyond raising hands rather than keeping the Western alliance alive.