Sometimes a drumbeat drowns out the melody of the triangle. On Tuesday evening (local time), the New York Times published a guest article by Joe Biden. In it, the American President outlines what is important to him and his government in the war in Ukraine. The headline reads: “What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine.” It is a programmatic text in which omissions and subordinate clauses also deserve maximum attention.
The US President is a key figure. Without massive American support, Ukraine would probably have lost the war against the Russian aggressors long ago. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy knows this well. Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, sees Biden as his main adversary. In this respect, Zelenskyj and Putin are likely to be the most important addressees of the text.
The bang is Biden’s announcement that he wants to supply Ukraine with a large number of state-of-the-art weapons. These include rocket launchers, Stinger missiles, helicopters, anti-tank weapons, artillery, radar systems. The weapons are part of a $700 million (€652 million) package.
However, Biden does not define Ukraine’s victory as the goal of these arms deliveries – and thus to the melody of the triangle – but its strongest possible position at the negotiating table (“be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table”).
The US President approvingly refers to a statement by Zelenskyj, whom he quotes as saying that the war can only be ended through diplomacy (“will only definitely end through diplomacy”). In Biden’s next sentence it says that in every negotiation the facts created on the ground must be taken into account (“Every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground”).
That makes you sit up and take notice. Biden expressly does not name any conditions for a negotiated solution, which he characterizes as the only way to end the war. It is true that a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine is being striven for, which has sufficient means to deter opponents and to defend itself.
In addition, the US President assures that he does not want to push Ukraine to make any territorial concessions, either privately or publicly. But for him there is apparently no alternative to a negotiated solution (“The United States will continue to work to strengthen Ukraine and support efforts to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict”).
Biden unequivocally assures: “We don’t want a war between NATO and Russia.” They will not interfere directly in the conflict, neither by sending American troops nor by attacking Russian forces. Also, the US would not try to overthrow the Russian president.
The message to Putin is: Every additional day of war will cost Russia dearly because of American arms deliveries. To Zelenskyj: The United States remains firmly on Ukraine’s side, but there is no way around a negotiated solution.