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Biden has “made mistake after mistake” in handling the crisis, the hawkish Republican and former US national security adviser says
US President Joe Biden had failed to deter the Russian offensive in Ukraine and now has no idea what to do with the ongoing conflict, former US national security adviser John Bolton has said. Bolton also claimed that a deal between Moscow and Kiev seems to be unlikely at the moment.
The Republican politician, who is a staunch critic of Russia and one of the most hawkish figures on the American political scene, appeared on CBS on Saturday, claiming that Biden had “made mistake after mistake” in handling the Ukrainian crisis.
The US leader had the means to prevent the Russian military operation, but “didn’t exercise them,” he insisted. According to Bolton, Biden shouldn’t have announced publicly that American troops wouldn’t be sent to Ukraine to “leave the burden of ambiguity on Russia.” The right thing to do for Biden was also to slap sanctions on Moscow before the start of the offensive, not after it had already begun, he added.
As for the possibility of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine being settled at the negotiating table, the former US national security adviser said: “I don’t see any possibility of a deal between the two of them.”
“I don’t think [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is in a position to say he has achieved Russia’s objectives. He may come to that at some point. It may be a lie, but he’ll find a way to stop the hostilities on his own terms,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also “has no flexibility to negotiate at this point,” as polls show that the majority of Ukrainians object to any territorial concessions to Russia, he added.
“So, sadly, particularly for Ukraine, I think this grinds on for some time,” Bolton said of the fighting.
When asked whether the White House had a winning strategy in Ukraine now after four months of conflict, Bolton responded by saying: “I don’t think they do.”
“I think now they don’t know what outcome to expect; they don’t know what they want to achieve,” he pointed out.
“The initial strategy [of the Biden administration] was to prevent catastrophic defeat” for Kiev as Washington expected Ukraine to fall in a couple of weeks, the 73-year-old said.
“Let’s not get too excited about the fact that Ukraine wasn’t overrun,” he urged, adding that “now we need to decide what our objectives are.”
According to Bolton, they should be “gaining again full territorial integrity and sovereignty for Ukraine.”
Biden addressed the Ukrainian conflict during the NATO summit in Madrid earlier this week. “I don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said, but at the same time vowed that “it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”
The US has been the strongest backer of Kiev amid the Russian military operation, providing Ukraine with billions of dollars in military and financial aid, as well as with intelligence data. “We are going to stick with Ukraine, and all of the [NATO] alliance is going to stick with Ukraine as long as it takes,” Biden said.
Putin also commented on Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine on Wednesday during the Caspian Summit in Turkmenistan, reiterating that the military operation was going according to plan and that all of its goals are going to be achieved. “The work is going smoothly, rhythmically… There is no need to talk about the timing,” the Russian leader pointed out.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.