The U.S. and the U.K. on Wednesday vowed to defeat Russian President Vladimir Putin as his forces continue to pummel Ukraine two weeks into the war.
“I’m absolutely convinced that Putin will fail, and Russia will suffer a strategic defeat no matter what short-term tactical gains they may make in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters from a joint press conference with U.K. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
“You can win a battle, but that doesn’t mean you win the war,” he continued. “You can take a city, but you can’t take the hearts and minds of its people.”
Russian forces continue to make advances on Ukrainian cities and security officials believe they will attempt to encircle the capital of Kyiv to overthrow the democratically elected government and replace it with a “puppet regime.”
The U.S. and NATO have said their forces will not engage with Russia militarily in Ukraine and have instead targeted the Kremlin through severe sanctions and provided Kyiv with defensive aid.
Together the U.S. and the U.K. have provided more than $1.4 billion in security assistance, including through surface-to-air missile defense systems like Javellin, Stinger and MANPAD missiles – which are shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the U.S. and NATO to implement no-fly zones to bar Russian planes from hitting targets in the air.
Poland on Tuesday issued a surprise announcement that it would send all MiG-29 warplanes to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Ukraine has called for the speedy delivery of these planes.
But U.S. defense officials have warned that deploying warplanes from a U.S. base in a NATO-allied nation could further escalate Russia’s aggression – a concern that was echoed by the British foreign secretary.
“The best way to help protect the skies is through anti-air weaponry,” Truss told reporters. “The reality is that setting up a no-fly zone would lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.”
The U.K. announced Wednesday that it would send air defense systems to Ukraine to help counter the slurry of missiles Russia has levied at Ukraine.
But both the U.S. and U.K. said their ultimate goal is to continue making Russia’s economic reality increasingly difficult and called on nations like India and those in the Gulf states to follow suit by dropping their Moscow-oil ties.
“Now is not the time to let up – Putin must fail,” Truss said. “We know from history, that aggressors only understand one thing, and that is strength.
“We know that if we don’t do enough now, other aggressors around the world will be emboldened and we know that if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, there will be terrible implications for European and global security,” she added.