Biden Admits He Does Not Want War with Russia Despite Zelensky’s Victorious Rhetoric

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In his address to the US Congress on December 21, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that he seeks  “absolute victory” over Russia, employing the word “victory” 11 times. Writing for the Washington Post, renowned journalist David Ignatius describes Zelensky’s visit to Washington as it was: a “war summit”. Ignatius concludes that this summit ended however with a gap between the Ukrainian and his US counterpart Joe Biden. The latter during their joint press conference indirectly answered the insistent requests for more potent weapons being sent to Ukraine by saying that providing Kiev with long-distance missiles “would have a prospect of breaking up NATO” and “and breaking up the European Union and the rest of the world.” Not only that, he added that his NATO allies are “not looking to go to war with Russia. They’re not looking for a third world war.” Acknowledging that perhaps he had already “said too much”, Biden then reassured his Ukrainian ally standing next to him, by telling him “as I said, Mr. President, you don’t have to worry — we are staying with Ukraine as long as Ukraine is there.”

Although the Zelensky cult has been fading for a while, he was enthusiastically applauded by American lawmakers several times and the Western media has emphasized it. However, besides the aforementioned gap, there were blatant incongruenties in his speech also.

Zelensky boasted of a first Ukrainian “victory”, which consists of supposedly having “defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world”, and he added that “Americans gained this victory” by “uniting the global community” – when in fact Biden has been struggling to maintain his international coalition to support Kiev. Although the Ukrainian leader claimed “Europe is now stronger and more independent than ever”, the truth of course is that the continent is facing a severe energy crisis which has only served Washington’s interests. Moreover, Biden’s aggressive $369 billion subsidy package, which hurts Europe, has been described by French President Emmanuel Macron as an issue that could “divide the West”. So much for “union”.

Still talking about the information war, Zelensky himself admitted it is still necessary “to ensure that countries of the Global South also gain such victory.” By saying that, he basically conceded that the vast majority of the world does not support Kiev – and truly African nations and other emerging states have been increasingly building on multi-alignment, and non-alignment, while developing beneficial relations with China and Russia.

When the Ukrainian President mentioned having visited Bakhmut, he said that “the Ukrainian Donbass stands”. It is quite ironic that when Zelensky, talking about Donbass, said that “every inch of that land” is “soaked in blood”, he failed to mention the fact that this very region had been regularly shelled by Kiev for 8 years before the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict started in February 2022.  Ukrainian human rights violations in Donbass have in fact been heavily white-washed by the West and so has been the ugly reality of the Azov battalion’s neo-Nazi leanings.

But one thing Zelensky did say during his speech: he said that although the Ukrainians have artillery, and thanked the US for that, it is not “enough” (which elicited some uncomfortable laughter from some of the US lawmakers – audible at around 11min in the C-SPAN clip) and that “more cannons and shells are needed.” It is significant, though, that there was enthusiastic applause when the Ukrainian President clarified that his country “never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us” and that “Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves”. Ironically, in doing so, he echoed the August sarcastic remarks of Sergey Kiriyenko, first deputy chief of the Russian presidential staff, about NATO being eager to fight against Moscow “to the last Ukrainian” soldier.

Although many American voices have been calling for direct and even nuclear war against Russia, Biden, during the aforementioned joint press conference, has explicitly signaled that this is not his desire. He prefers, it would seem, to keep using Ukraine and Europe as proxies.

On January 30, before the current crisis began, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had already reiterated that (US-led) NATO would not send troops in case Russia attacked its neighbor, but reassured the Atlantic Alliance would in any case provide “support” to Kiev. His words seem to have passed the test of time so far. Commenting on this, I wrote, on February 1st, that such a “support” could end in a humanitarian disaster with undesired consequences to Europe and the West itself. I also remarked that, in a perverted way, former US president Donald Trump’s remarks about the crisis being a “European problem” made a lot of sense. The Europeans as well as the Ukrainians themselves, of course, have been paying the hard price for the misguided policy of “encircling” Russia. I’ve also written on how the US profits from prolonging the conflict in Ukraine – to Europe’s detriment.

The problem with this kind of indirect tension game is that proxy actors themselves are sometimes unpredictable (they can get tired of being used by such an “ally”) and, moreover, tensions may escalate too much and spiral out of control, as we’ve already seen. Although Biden has admitted quite candidly that he does not wish to enter into direct conflict with Moscow so as not to provoke a world war,  Washington in any case has been playing a dangerous game, which increases the risk of such a war.


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Uriel Araujo is a researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

Featured image: President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Wednesday, December 21, 2022, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) 

Articles by: Uriel Araujo

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