Michael Hirsch, the former national editor of Politico Magazine, posted an article yesterday in which he claims that the Biden Administration is shifting its strategy on Ukraine to settle for something less than the expulsion of Russia from all of the territories of which it has taken control in Ukraine. “Such a negotiation would likely mean giving up parts of Ukraine to Russia,” Hirsch adds. There may indeed be some truth to that general proposition, but the article is still riddled with fantasies about Russia, particularly with respect to Moscow’s stated objectives for the special military operation—neutralization, demilitarization, and denazification. The underlying assumption is that Putin is ready to accept something less than achieving those objectives.
“The White House and Pentagon publicly insist there is no official change in administration policy,” Hirsch writes, basing himself on two anonymous officials, one American and one European. “But along with the Ukrainians themselves, U.S. and European officials are now discussing the redeployment of Kiev’s forces away from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s mostly failed counteroffensive into a stronger defensive position against Russian forces in the east…. This effort has also involved bolstering air defense systems and building fortifications, razor wire obstructions and anti-tank obstacles and ditches along Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus, these officials say. In addition, the Biden administration is focused on rapidly resurrecting Ukraine’s own defense industry to supply the desperately needed weaponry the U.S. Congress is balking at replacing.”
“We want Ukraine to have the strongest hand possible when that comes,” an anonymous White House spokesperson told Hirsch. The spokesperson emphasized, however, that no talks are planned yet, and that Ukrainian forces are still on the offensive in places and continue to kill and wound thousands of Russian troops. “We want them to be in a stronger position to hold their territory. It’s not that we’re discouraging them from launching any new offensive,” the spokesperson added.