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U.S. Shores Up Ukraine Aid as Energy Crisis in Europe Looms


In promising Ukraine billions of dollars in long-term military aid, the Biden administration is in search of to prove that U.S. support within the war can outlast Russia’s determination.

Rallying American lawmakers and the general public around that assistance, and billions in additional immediate help, has been relatively painless for President Biden. But he must also keep Europe on board because the Russian invasion has sent energy prices soaring and created what could turn into the continent’s worst economic crisis in a generation.

American officials insist they’ve not seen any cracks within the NATO alliance, whose members, to various degrees, have agreed to back Ukraine within the defense of its homeland. Ukraine’s recent battlefield successes, from routing Russian troops within the northeast to isolating Russian units within the south, will even help shore up resolve in Europe, American officials say.

However the jump in energy prices in Europe, and the prospect of frigid homes within the looming cold months, has led to anxiety. Russia heightened those concerns by recently announcing that Gazprom, the state-owned energy company, wouldn’t resume the flow of natural gas to Europe through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Mr. Putin, military and diplomatic analysts say, believes that a gas shortage will weaken European support for Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Russia had “weaponized energy” against the Europeans.

“President Putin is betting that these actions will break the desire of nations to face with Ukraine,” he said at NATO headquarters in Belgium earlier this month. “He’s betting that the Kremlin can bully other countries into submission.”

Mr. Blinken’s visit to NATO, and to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, got here just as Ukrainian forces were starting to make significant gains across the northeastern a part of their country.

Pentagon officials say a decree that Mr. Putin signed last month raising the goal variety of his country’s active-duty service members by about 137,000, to 1.15 million, was one other sign that he believed Russia could still win a war of attrition.

“He’s signaling that he’s attempting to ground this thing out,” a senior defense official said in an interview. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly.

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Mr. Biden, for his part, appears determined to point out that NATO’s commitment stays solid. On Wednesday, he is anticipated to deal with Ukraine in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is scheduled to handle the assembly by video on the identical day.

“Our support of the nation of Ukraine has set an example for the world,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said, adding that support for Ukraine amongst U.S. allies remained strong. “How that can proceed after the winter, when prices of heating undergo the roof for people in Europe is uncertain, in my opinion. I only hope we are able to stick together and supply the support that Ukraine needs.”

The brand new aid brings the quantity the USA has pledged to Kyiv for the reason that Russian invasion in February to about $15 billion.

“Vladimir Putin seems to consider that Russia can win the long game — outlasting the Ukrainians of their will to fight and the international community’s will to proceed to support Ukraine,” Colin Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, said at a news conference last month. He called that belief “yet one more Russian miscalculation.”

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During his visit to Kyiv, Mr. Blinken said that America and its allies must work to “sustain Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul.”

“Meaning the continued and determined flow of capability now,” he said.

Most of that flow has come from America.

But material support for Ukraine from Europe has faded. The whole of latest commitments of military and financial aid from six of the biggest European countries decreased in May and dropped sharply in June, in keeping with an evaluation by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

In July, the last month for which data was available, none of those countries — Britain, Germany, Poland, France, Italy and Spain — made any significant latest pledges.

“We were surprised that aid mainly went to zero, especially from the large European powers,” said Christoph Trebesch, the institute’s director for international finance and macroeconomics and the top of the team conducting the evaluation.

Mr. Trebesch noted that European countries were still distributing aid announced in previous months, and that a few of that has been sent in secret. But, he added, the brand new data suggested that material support for Ukraine, particularly transfers of military equipment, could turn into scarce.

“That is all pointing more towards financing stalemate quite than financing Ukrainian counteroffensives,” Mr. Trebesch said. “It appears to be more about preserving the established order than really allowing Ukraine to do something serious, each militarily and financially.” 

Analysts say that Germany specifically has fallen short, despite its earlier rhetoric.

Markus Kaim, a senior fellow for international security on the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said he and other analysts were at first “totally surprised” by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s pledge to significantly raise military spending to support Ukraine “for so long as it takes” and to eventually eliminate the country’s dependence on Russian energy.

However the policy changes since then have been less dramatic, he said.

Critics say the German government has not done enough to assist Ukraine. A specific sticking point is Germany’s refusal to send Leopard 2 foremost battle tanks to Ukraine. Mr. Scholz and his government ministers have said that the German military’s arsenal was too depleted to send heavier equipment and that they are not looking for Germany to be the primary country to send modern Western tanks to Ukraine.

Germany announced a 100 billion euro ($113 billion) increase in defense funding this 12 months. Even so, it is going to not reach NATO’s goal of getting each member spend not less than 2 percent of its gross domestic product by itself defense every year, a goal Mr. Scholz vowed to satisfy, in keeping with a forecast by the German Economic Institute, a think tank based in Cologne.

Jeffrey Rathke, a former senior U.S. diplomat and the president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, said Germany and other European countries could be in a stronger position to proceed opposing Russia this winter.

“Once you take a look at the general public opinion,” Mr. Rathke said, “you see what I’d call the readiness of the German public to be led to further steps and sacrifices in an effort to achieve the strategic objectives of supporting Ukraine and preserving the European political order.” 

Christian Mölling, a research director on the German Council on Foreign Relations, also said he was optimistic that Europe would proceed to present a united front against Russia but added that public disagreements on the problem would proceed.

“It should be loud, sometimes dirty,” said Mr. Mölling, drawing comparisons to the policy debates at the peak of the pandemic and the European debt crisis.

But, he added, “we’re discussing all this stuff publicly because that’s how democracies do it.”

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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