When US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, at the end of a whirlwind visit to Ukraine on April 24, said the US goal was to see Russia “weakened” to the point of no longer being able to invade a neighboring country, it has in fact endorsed a transformation of the conflict: the battle for control of Ukraine is turning into a direct confrontation between Washington and Moscow.
However, President Joe Biden had begun, at the start of the war, by hammering home his desire not to make it a confrontation between Russia and the United States. He was keen to keep the US military off the battlefield, and he resisted demands for a no-fly zone over Ukraine that threatened to push Americans and Russians into direct confrontation. .
A tougher rhetoric
Since then, as Russia’s atrocities and war crimes, and Ukraine’s need for heavy weapons, have become indisputable, the lines have become more blurred, the rhetoric more harsh. In words and deeds, the United States is working more and more openly to undermine the Russian military.
Washington has thus taken sanctions designed explicitly to prevent the Russian military apparatus from developing and manufacturing new weapons. The Americans are also trying, with mixed success, to cut off the gas and oil revenue tap that feeds the Russian war machine.
Lloyd Austin’s anything but improvised statement [le 25 avril, le ministre de la Défense américain a dit souhaiter “voir la Russie affaiblie au point de ne plus pouvoir répéter ce qu’elle a fait depuis le début de l’invasion de l’Ukraine”] had an immediate objective: to put the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, as much as possible “in a position of strength”, in the words of a senior Ministry of Defense official, in view of the negotiations for a ceasefire expected, in one form or another, in the coming months.
But in the longer term, posting such a strategic objective on the part of America ri
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