Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has been a “strategic blunder” that has left Moscow weaker and isolated globally, the White House said on Wednesday.
“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership,” White House Press Secretary Kate Bedingfield said at a media briefing.
Bedingfield said that Putin’s senior advisors were “too afraid to tell him the truth” about the losses that the Russian military was facing in Ukraine and how the country’s economy had been hurt due to sanctions imposed by the Western countries.
The White House official added that the United States will continue to impose sanctions on Russia and provide Ukraine with security assistance and weapons.
“We will continue to do everything we can to flow assistance, security assistance to the Ukrainians,” she said.
Responding to a question on Russia’s claim that it would start to pull back forces in certain parts of Ukraine, Bedingfield said that the US had seen evidence of Moscow’s troops attacking and advancing in places where they previously said they would not.
On Tuesday too, officials of Ukraine and Western countries, including the US had expressed skepticism about Russia’s announcement to “drastically scale down” military operations around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to leaders of the US, France, Germany and Italy over the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The five countries have agreed to continue to extend sanctions on Russia and support Ukrainians to sustain the fight.
Johnson said that Western sanctions should remain in place till every single one of Russian troops has left Ukraine, adding that British military aid will “go up a gear,” reported AFP.
Status of the conflict
During Tuesday’s peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv, Ukraine proposed a status under which it would not join alliances like the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or host bases of foreign troops in exchange for security guarantees, according to Reuters.
Ukrainian negotiators also proposed to include a 15-year consultation period on the status of Crimea, which Russia had annexed in 2014. They, however, said the proposals would come into force only in the event of a complete ceasefire from Russia.
Meanwhile, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of Tuesday, 4,019,287 refugees have left Ukraine, with over half of them fleeing to the neighbouring country, Poland.
Around 141 children have been killed during the war, but real figures may be much higher, Ukraine’s ombudsperson Lyudmyla Denisova said on March 29, according to the EU Observer. Nearly 1,60,000 residents are trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol, without access to essential supplies, she added.