In public, President Joe Biden has shown unwavering commitment to Ukraine – pledging billions of dollars in aid packages. At the same time, last month, he agreed to send Kyiv a total of thirty-one M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs).
However, behind the scenes, Biden has continued to question whether Ukraine can actually defeat Russia.
Joe Biden Had a Plan to End Ukraine War
CNN had reported last June that White House officials were losing confidence that Ukraine would ever be able to reclaim the land that it lost to Russia in the early stages of the war.
That was of course before Ukraine launched its late summer offensive that successfully pushed back the Kremlin’s forces – while Russia continues to lose men and material in the brutal fighting.
There are still those in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that believe Ukraine will face an uphill battle in retaking Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
Perhaps that explains why last month, Biden may have floated an idea that would see Ukraine give up 20 percent of its territory to end the war. According to a report from Newsweek, citing the Swiss-German newspaper NZZ, CIA Director William Burns offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a fifth of Ukraine’s territory as part of a peace plan.
Both Kyiv and Moscow quickly rejected the proposal, which had been drawn up at the behest of Biden.
It doesn’t make clear what territory would be ceded to Russia – but it would likely include the Eastern Donbas region where heavy fighting continues, and that would be in addition to Crimea. Russian officials dismissed it, arguing they “will win the war in the long run anyway,” according to NZZ – while Kyiv shot it down as they were not willing to have their territory divided.
Putin Channeled Stalingrad Victory
The news that Biden had suggested Ukraine give up territory coincided with reports that Putin on Thursday marked the 80th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army’s victory at Stalingrad to rally Russians around his military campaign in Ukraine.
The Russian leader attended the commemorations held in Volgograd, the city in Southern Russia that was called Stalingrad until 1961. It was the site of five months of fighting, lasting from August 1942 to February 1943, which became the bloodiest battle of the Second World War. It was where the Red Army successfully encircled and then subsequently destroyed the German Sixth Army – turning the tide of the war and leading to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.
Much of the city was reduced to rubble before the Nazi forces surrendered on February 2, 1943.
On Thursday, thousands of people reportedly lined Volgograd’s streets to watch a victory parade that included modern as well as World War II-era tanks and other armored vehicles. In addition, a new bust of Stalin, along with Soviet Commanders Georgy Zhukov and Alexander Vasilyevsky, was erected in the city on Wednesday.
While Putin may have tried to use the event to rally the people, it won’t be enough to ensure Russia sees victory in Ukraine.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.