U.S. Officials Increasingly Warn: We Can’t Defeat Russia Militarily

That the Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia, finally launched June 4 after continuous postponements, has been a complete failure is now acknowledged by all but the most hard-core geopoliticians. But that, unfortunately, does not mean that Western political leaders, beginning with President Biden, have decided to seek an end to the senseless killing and destruction through diplomatic means. Rather, they remain committed – at least publicly — to throwing more money and military equipment into the war.

Thus, in a much hyped move, the White House finally approved the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine by The Netherlands and Denmark (fighter planes they were about to replace with more modern ones in any case). But the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, Gen. James Hecker, told reporters on Aug. 18, that, while they were better than what Kyiv now has, the F-16s would not be a “silver bullet” allowing the Ukrainians to take out Russia’s air defense system.

Meanwhile, the growing nervousness in informed circles in Washington over the failed attempt to use Ukraine to defeat Russia is reflected in a number of recent leaks, as the following examples show:

  • A classified assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, leaked in the Aug. 17 Washington Post, forecasts that the Ukrainian offensive is unlikely to reach its key objective of reaching Melitopol and cutting off Russia’s land route to Crimea. That “grim assessment is based on Russia’s brutal proficiency in defending occupied territory”, the Post adds, and will raise many questions in Western capitals, “about why a counteroffensive that saw tens of billions of dollars of Western weapons and military equipment fell short of its goals”.
  • Politico reported Aug. 18 that an anonymous American official conceded the government may have “missed a window” to push for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley “had a point”, when he offered a grim pronouncement on Kyiv’s chances for victory last year. According to this article, President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have vehemently rejected negotiations, against the suggestions of some members of the military and intelligence agencies.
  • Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cited a U.S. intelligence official on his Substack blog on Aug. 17, who said that the CIA had warned Secretary Blinken that Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces was bound to fail, and that Kiev “will not win the war”.
  • Opposition is growing in the U.S. Congress, in particular among Republicans, but also Democrats, to additional military spending for Ukraine. Republican Representative Andy Harris is a case in point. Although an ardent supporter of Kyiv until now and co-chairman of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, he said he would will not approve any more aid without oversight. Citing the danger of starting “World War III”, he called for peace talks to begin now.
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