Sixty-six days later*, the struggle is no longer for Kyiv but rather for the future of Washington and Moscow.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is on the verge of crossing the point of no return in a confrontation between two countries with the ability to destroy the world. This is why the political survival of Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden now depend on the decisive defeat of the opponent.
[On May 1], Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and one of Biden’s most important allies, paid a visit to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital.
From there, she sent a succinct message: “We are here until victory is won. … Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is over.”
Pelosi would have assured Zelenskyy that the weapons necessary for that victory to actually occur will be provided. She was speaking for Biden, who has decided to tie his political future, as well as the future of his party, to the outcome of this war.
The situation in Moscow is very similar. Faced with the tortuous advance of Russian troops, the “special operation” conceived by the Kremlin as a “surgical strike” has become a total war. The outcome will determine whether Putin maintains political control of Russia.
So, as the Russian president calls for a massive mobilization and the U.S. president moves toward supporting the Ukrainian cause without reservation, they are both getting closer to crossing this perilous threshold.
The problem is, if Biden and Putin don’t fight it out along these lines, the political outlook for them both, at the head of their respective governments, is predicted to be bleak.
The victory to which Pelosi is referring has to happen before Nov. 8; otherwise, the Democrats will pay dearly in this year’s midterm elections. Something similar is happening in Russia: If Putin’s war is not finished by the end of 2022, the Russian leader’s mandate will come to an abrupt end.
Going forward, whoever wins the Ukrainian capital for himself will succeed in holding onto his office, whether in Moscow or in Washington. What is significant is that only one of the two, Biden or Putin, will survive the attempt.
*Editor’s note: As of May 18, it has been 84 days since Russia invaded Ukraine.
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