President Biden warned Monday night that Russian President Vladimir Putin “doesn’t have a way out” of the war in Ukraine as Kyiv’s foreign minister upgraded his country’s goals for victory to pushing Moscow’s forces completely out of the country.
During a Democratic National Committee fundraising reception in Maryland, Biden told his audience that Putin “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that.”
“I’m confident that Putin believed that he could break up NATO, that he believed he could break the European Union,” Biden added, according to Reuters, before calling his Russian counterpart “very calculating.”
The president’s comments came more than 10 weeks after Putin’s deadly assault on Ukraine began Feb. 24. Reporting has indicated that the Kremlin anticipated an easy win over its western neighbor, expecting to seize Kyiv and other key cities in just days.
However, March saw strong pushback from Ukrainian troops who drove Russian forces away from Kyiv and forced them to regroup in the eastern region of the country.
Now, Ukraine’s government is ramping up its war aims.
“In the first months of the war the victory for us looked like withdrawal of Russian forces to the positions they occupied before Feb. 24 and payment for inflicted damage,” Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Financial Times on Monday.
“Now if we are strong enough on the military front and we win the battle for Donbas, which will be crucial for the following dynamics of the war, of course the victory for us in this war will be the liberation of the rest of our territories,” he added.
Russia has launched an offensive in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, where it has propped up a pair of self-proclaimed, pro-Moscow “people’s republics” since 2014. The Kremlin is also trying to consolidate gains in southeastern Ukraine with the goal of cutting off Kyiv’s access to ports on the Black Sea.
Kuleba told the Financial Times that only Russia’s complete defeat would allow Ukraine to restore its export economy. However, he added that his country’s forces would need “even more military support” to accomplish this and called on Ukraine’s allies to stop Russian oil exports and boost the “time and sustainability” of weapons deliveries.
“If the battle is raging today, and howitzers and drones are arriving tomorrow, that is not how it should work,” Kuleba said.
Congress is expected to finalize another package of military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as early as Tuesday.
Kuleba indicated he believes Western nations will continue to back Ukraine through the end of the conflict, saying Ukraine’s resistance to Russia so far has “brought the US and EU back together.”
“They already feel that our victory will also be their victory and this is why I believe they will stand by us,” he said.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers she expected “the next month or two of fighting” in Ukraine to be “significant.”
“Even if they [the Russians] are successful,” she added, “we are not confident that the fight for the Donbas [region] will effectively end the war.”