In both the United States and Europe, after Ukraine’s vaunted counteroffensive made so little progress, “we have both recognized that we’ve come to the end of the strategy we pursued for last two years,” she said. “Partly through magical thinking, we thought that what we provided them would put them in the strongest possible position to negotiate. But Russia has no interest in negotiations. Our strategy didn’t work and our theory of victory didn’t pan out.”
Even if the United States turns away from Ukraine, especially if Donald J. Trump is elected, Ms. Tocci said, “Europe does not have that luxury.” In Europe, “we can’t say, ‘We’re tired, and please Russia take some more.’ I don’t see the Europeans stopping trying to aid Ukraine, even if our aid is not sufficient.”
In fact, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been boasting this week about how Russia will outlast a tiring West. “The Western strategy was to put Ukraine into a position of strength, giving it more military support, with the expectation that as Russia started to lose it would ask for negotiations,” said Ulrich Speck, a German analyst. “But Putin now feels in a position of strength, so we’ve achieved the opposite.”
Even the first step of the strategy has failed, he said, with Russia successfully resisting the Ukrainian counteroffensive despite all the Western support. “So this emboldens Russia, because they think this is all the West is willing to give Kyiv, and it’s already happened,” Mr. Speck said. To Moscow, “it looks like we’ve run out of steam on Ukraine, and Putin thinks he is more committed to controlling Ukraine than the West is to helping it.” So Mr. Putin has no incentive to negotiate now, if he ever did.
With the Americans moving into a difficult phase of an electoral campaign, “Europe needs to own Ukraine,” Mr. Speck said, instead of feeling that “they participate in a U.S. operation.” Europeans, he said, “need to build their own leadership group that can set goals, and there is an opportunity now to revive a Ukraine coalition inside Europe” with the election of Donald Tusk as Polish prime minister.
“Europe needs to take responsibility,” he said. “The U.S. is not going to do everything anymore.”