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NIAS Europe Studies
100 days of the Ukraine war: US Responses in the war

  Emmanuel Selva Royan

The US will steadily increase the military supplies and continue to keep the imposed sanctions intact until Russia surrenders.

On 24 February, the US took substantial and unprecedented action in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine by imposing severe economic sanctions on its economy and banking system. President Joe Biden authorized USD 350 million for Ukraine’s defense under the Foreign Assistance Act. Ever since the US has pledged a total of USD 3.9 billion to Ukraine in military aid. The US has also been training Ukrainian soldiers to use the Switchblade drones and other equipment to prove effective in the battlefield.

On the same day, Biden met the Group of Seven leaders to reiterate their commitment to rapidly respond to president Putin's aggression on Ukraine and expressed their sympathy with the Ukrainian people.

On 24 March, Biden visited Europe to attend a series of meetings with NATO, G7 and the European Council. All the groups seemed to welcome the return of US leadership and engagement in Europe.

On 11 May, the US House of Representatives passed a bill worth USD 40 billion of aid to Ukraine. The current bill exceeds by seven billion from the previous proposed by the US president Joe Biden to Congress on 29 April.

The Congress has been accelerating its approvals for aid to Ukraine, to help counter Russia. The US democratic representative Rosa DeLauro said: “This bill will protect democracy, limit Russian aggression, and strengthen our own national security, while, most importantly, supporting Ukraine.”

What are the issues?
First, the expansion of sanctions. The first phase of sanctions since the invasion focused on financial institutions and markets to halt the raising of capitals. The second phase targeted where the world thought would hurt the most: on energy and oil. Further, the use terminated all scientific research and exploration with Russia in Antarctica and Space. The US also tried to narrow the sanctions on particular influential individuals related to the president of Russia. Although Western sanctions have failed to coerce Russia to reverse its actions and cease the aggression in Ukraine, they have had a significant impact on the Russian economy.

Second, implications of increased supply of arms and ammunition to Ukraine. The US is attempting to defend Ukraine through supply of anti-tank missiles against Russian aggression without igniting a wider war in Europe. Ukraine's success in stymieing Russia's considerably larger and better- equipped military, delaying its attempt to attack the capital, has been largely due to Western armaments. The US has supplied Stinger anti-aircraft systems which shifted the tide in Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Javelin anti-armour systems, Switchblade drones, air surveillance radars, Mi17 helicopters, 155mm Howitzers. However, with no US troops on the ground, the lack of traceability could arm the separatists and mercenaries of Russia against Ukraine.

Third, responses towards refugees from Ukraine. Since 24 February, the US has contributed more than USD 123 million to support European countries and the EU in their efforts to receive and host millions of refugees. Biden has also welcomed over a million refugees, however the refugees have to go through a broad range of legal processes. On 24 March, Biden announced the launch of European Democratic Resilience Initiative (EDRI), which is expected to contribute at least USD 320 million in new financing, which aims to strengthen democratic resilience, enhance anti-corruption measures, and safeguard human rights in Ukraine and its neighbours.

Fourth, the oil crisis. On 08 March, president Biden announced the first sanction on oil and gas imports from Russia which was followed by the UK. The news led to the surge in oil prices, with Benchmark Brent crude oil for May rose by 5.4 per cent to USD 129.91 a barrel. In an attempt to cool the prices, Biden on 31 March announced the release of one million barrels a day of crude oil for six months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). He also called on Congress to levy fines on oil firms which are idle on unused oil and gas wells. Biden attempted to reach out to the middle east countries to supply oil to Europe, but his calls were rebuked. The UAE and Saudi Arabia declined to help citing US unreliability in the region. Apart from this the US began looking for non-Russian options for Europe’s oil supply before the invasion which also seem to have exhausted. Therefore pushing the US to extract and explore more oil reserves within its territory.

Fifth, the return of US presence in Europe. On 24 March, president Biden began his Europe tour by attending an emergency summit summoned by NATO, and meetings with the European Council and the G7. One the same day, the president of the European Commission Ursula reiterated the fact that the transatlantic ties stand stronger than ever. Since the start of hostilities, the US and NATO allies took steps to bolster allied force posture in Eastern Europe, enhancing deterrence against more robust Russian aggression and demonstrating the Alliance's ability to defend its eastern flank.

What next
First, the need for the US to address the oil and food crisis in Europe and worldwide. In the following months and years, the US will have to manage its domestic needs, internal pressure against US involvement in the war, European developmental banks and the World Bank to support Europe from oil and food shortage.

Second, the increasing footprint of the US in the region might evoke resentment among the EU states. Amid the war in Ukraine, while few member states in Europe have welcomed the US leadership and engagement, many have criticized the EU for letting the US intervene. However, post-war the US might start to influence the region's security strategy and membership calls to the EU. This may invoke resentment against the US.

Third, the war has now lasted 100 days and is expected to continue. The US seem to have exhausted its sanctions and has been tactically playing in supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine. In the upcoming months, there can be three probabilities for the US. First, uniting the world powers to isolate Russia in every possible way to bring down its economic reserves. Two, negotiating with

Russia to give away of Donbass region in exchange of peace and sovereignty to Ukraine through a peace treaty or agreement. Three, to steadily increase the military supplies and continue to keep the imposed sanctions intact until Russia surrenders.

About the author
Emmanuel Royan is a Research Assistant at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.  As part of Europe Studies program, he looks into developments of the Baltic states, and Southern European countries, and follows developments in the Ukraine war.

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