US mobilizes allies to reject Russian annexation effort amid nuclear threats
The U.S. and its allies are mobilizing the international community to reject Russian attempts to annex territory in Ukraine, in a move that Kyiv hopes will spur greater military support to deliver Moscow a decisive battlefield defeat.
Hawkish supporters of Ukraine say now is the time for the U.S., Europe and NATO to increase the delivery of heavy artillery, tanks and war planes to Kyiv despite nuclear weapons threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin is under pressure in Russia because of the battlefield misfires and the chaotic rollout of his mobilization order for 300,000 troops. The Ukrainian military’s stunning counteroffensive in the northeast led Putin to move to mobilize more troops, which has received a negative reaction in Russia.
William Taylor, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and vice president of the Russia and Europe program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the news is helping the U.S. effort.
“My bet is that the [global] reaction would be to double down on support for the Ukrainians on the battlefield,” he said. “The Russians have a big manpower problem and now’s the time for the Ukrainians, reinforced by these weapons … to allow them to break through the Russian lines and push the Russians out.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, told CBS News on Monday that the international community needs to speed up the supply of weapons.
He specifically called for the delivery of weapons to protect Ukraine’s airspace, adding that Russia is “impotent when it comes to the offensive on the ground” but that the missile threat needs to be eliminated.
“I have never had any doubt that Ukraine will militarily defeat Russia on Ukrainian territory,” he said.
The U.S. and United Kingdom have warned that what they call “sham” votes in four Ukrainian territories are an effort to annex Ukrainian territory while justifying the war to the Russian public.
The U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted on Tuesday that Putin is likely to use an address to the Russian Parliament on Friday “to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
“Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict,” the ministry tweeted.
There have been multiple reports of opposition to Putin’s military mobilization order, with angry protests popping up in Russia’s far-flung territories, a shooting at an enlistment center in a Siberian city and reports of long queues of military-age men looking to flee the country.
The U.K. on Monday announced sanctions against 92 Russian officials and entities it says are involved in carrying out the referendums.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the U.S. is readying sanctions if Russia moves forward on annexation.
“We are prepared and we will impose additional severe and swift costs on Russia for proceeding with the annexations,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized, one way or another, by Russia,” he added. “The weapons that we and many other countries are providing have been used very effectively to do just that.”
Taylor said the international community needs to follow up statements of anger with stronger military support.
“All these expressions of outrage, of rejection, sanctions — that’s important to do, and it does send a message, but what’s really going to send a message, what really needs to happen, is the Ukrainians need to be able to push [the Russians] out of those places where they’re doing these referendum, pushing them out of these four provinces,” he said.
The U.S. has so far provided Ukraine with $15 billion in security assistance, and lawmakers on Tuesday earmarked an additional $12.3 billion for Ukraine, included in draft text funding the government through December.
But Ukrainian officials are frustrated that European powers with significant military reserves — Germany, France and Italy, specifically — have not matched commitments by the U.S., the U.K. and even the Baltic states, which are proportional to their size and military budgets.
An analysis by the Kiel Institute for World Economy put the U.S. as the number one donor for arms and equipment to Ukraine — citing about $24 billion in commitments between January and August 3 — compared to pledges from Germany that equal about $1.2 billion.
France has committed less than $800 million in military assistance, and Italy around $200 million, according to the tracker, though it has counted $2.4 billion in military commitments from European Union institutions.
Frustrations appear to be roiling in Berlin, where opposition lawmakers are demanding German Chancellor Olaf Scholz immediately send German tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine.
Politico Europe reported heated and inflammatory debate within Germany’s Bundestag last week over the need to increase, and quickly, military supplies to Ukraine.
“If, in the light of mass graves in Bucha and Izyum, we are serious in saying: ‘Never again! Germany must ensure that something never happens again’ — then we have to go a decisive step further here,” parliamentarian Johann Wadephul, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, reportedly said.