Politico Update on President Biden and Ukraine

From a story on politico.com by Myah Ward:

— U.S. to send $750M in additional military aid to Ukraine: Using his presidential drawdown powers, President Joe Biden will give Kyiv’s forces drones, howitzers and protective equipment against possible chemical attacks along with other weapons, three people familiar with the new package told POLITICO.

— Team Biden scrambles to respond to claims of Russia chemical weapon use:Alleged and unconfirmed claims of chemical weapons use by Russia in Ukraine has forced a scramble inside the White House to match Biden’s promise of an “in kind” response while avoiding further escalation of the conflict. The White House is urging caution, noting that the use of chemical weapons remains unverified. U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject, said they have been running scenario-planning exercises on the possible use of chemical weapons, having publicly raised the alarm that Russian President Vladimir Putin may take such a step. The officials said that military options in Ukraine aren’t on the table — echoing Biden’s repeated position of not wanting to spark World War III.

— Biden labels Russian atrocities in Ukraine ‘genocide’: Speaking in Menlo, Iowa, about his Build a Better America agenda and efforts to lower energy prices, the president said a family’s financial situation in the U.S. should not be dependent on whether another leader “commits genocide.” The president doubled down later, telling reporters that his use of “genocide” was intentional. “It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being Ukrainian,” he said, adding that “we’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.”

To better understand some of the moves the Russian military is making as it prepares for a new advance on the Donbas, we chatted with Alex Ward, the host of National Security Daily, over Slack.

What does the change in military leadership over Russian forces in Ukraine tell us about the next phase of the war?

Russia was effectively fighting multiple smaller wars instead one, coordinated big one. The introduction of Gen. Alexander Dvorkinov aims to rectify that problem.

Experts frequently reference previous Russian military actions Georgia, Syria, Chechnya in comparison to the war in Ukraine. Are there patterns in these conflicts that provide insights into what might see over the coming weeks?

Even with a new general in charge of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, we should expect similar tactics by the Russians: artillery targeting civilian buildings, the butchering of innocents, and more. These methods are meant to break the will of the people and have them tell their government to stop fighting. The difference here, though, is that Ukrainian forces are far better at fighting than troops in Georgia, Syria or Chechnya were.

As the U.S. works to verify details on possible chemical weapons use, do the details we have right now comport with typical Russian strategy or weapons usage?

It would be very like Russia to use a chemical weapon to break the resistance of Ukrainian forces, including during the tense siege of Mariupol. But Moscow is aware that Ukraine doesn’t have blister or nerve agents, so they’ll likely use an industrial chemical like chlorine to then say, “It wasn’t us.”

We shouldn’t expect quick confirmation of the Ukrainian regiment’s claims, though. There isn’t really anyone to independently confirm the allegations, though perhaps investigators can make an early call based off of photos or videos.

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