Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s message to the Sunday news talk shows this weekend was that Russia has already seen a “strategic defeat” in its invasion of Ukraine, which follows what’s widely considered in the West to have been greatly ‘stalled’ progress of its forces amid a fiercer than expected Ukrainian resistance.
“If you step back and look at this, this has already been a dramatic strategic setback for Russia, and I would say a strategic defeat,” Blinken told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union”. Blinken was asked at the start of the segment about the potential for further sanctions on Russia in the interview.
He explained that the Kremlin’s “special operation” can be considered a failure given the three stated goals of Moscow going into it on Feb.24.
“They had three aims going into this. One was to subjugate Ukraine to Russia’s will, to take away its sovereignty and independence. The second was to assert Russian power. The third was to divide the west and NATO. On all three fronts, its already lost,” Blinken assessed.
“Ukraine, its sovereignty and independence is gonna be there a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is gonna be on the scene, the Russian military has dramatically underperformed, its economy is reeling, and the west, NATO are more united than any time I can remember,” he explained.
Now reaching day 40, the invasion has thus far resulted in the major city of Mariupol in the southeast coming under complete Russian control. While other smaller towns and some regions in the East have fallen, over the past days Russian forces have reportedly drawn down from near Kiev and the northern city of Chernihiv.
Blinken’s current words look very different from his warnings of years past…
“If you’re playing on the military terrain in Ukraine, you’re playing to Russia’s strength, because Russia is right next door.” pic.twitter.com/Y92M7BCkyJ
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) March 3, 2022
Russian sources have pointed to the military’s intentional avoidance of deploying major air power against Ukrainian cities, in order to spare civilians. However, President Zelensky on Sunday charged Russian forces with committing “genocide” – following alleged massacres in a town near Kiev:
Zelensky’s remarks follow statements from Ukrainian officials about executions in areas surrounding Kyiv that Russian forces have drawn away from in recent days.
Officials pointed to photos of bodies on a street in Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv. One person photographed has a white cloth tying their hands behind their back.
“Indeed, this is genocide,” Zelensky told moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Meanwhile, the past days have seen Russia appear to focus its main military efforts toward the ‘liberation’ of the Donbas region, in the east. Many Western analysts now believe Moscow has decided to limit the scope of its operations due to bigger than expected casualties over the first five weeks.