World Politics Today: Biden challenges Putin’s land grab in Ukraine
Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on Sept. 18, 2022
On this "Face the Nation" broadcast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and national security adviser Jake Sullivan joined Margaret Brennan.Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has wasted no time castigating Russia's move to annex four Ukrainian territories, pledging that "the United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders."
Indeed, Biden has continued to back his words with deeds, as was evident in the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced last week and the $12 billion package Biden is urging Congress to pass.
Putin calls an additional 120,00 citizens up for military service
The Russian leader said the mass conscription was 'not in any way related to the special operation' in Ukraine.State news agency TASS quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying the announcement was ‘not in any way related’ to the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed legislation officially absorbing the Ukrainian territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia into the Russian Federation. But that hasn't stopped the armed forces of Ukraine in their determined campaign to reclaim those territories. Armed with superior weapons from NATO countries, Ukraine has punished its Russian adversary on the battlefield with superior leadership, tactics and morale.
Russian media commentators have become much more morose over the last month as the Russian army has retreated from strategic city after city. Russian casualties are estimated be more than 60,000 killed and wounded — a grim mark that surpasses Soviet losses in the Afghan War of 1979-89.
Putin Has Left the World No Other Option But Regime Change
Vladimir Putin must go. His demented Kremlin speech Friday, during a ceremony in which he feebly asserted Russia was annexing portions of Ukraine, made the strongest case for the necessity of regime change in Moscow that any world leader has yet to make. But it has been clear the Russian dictator must be removed from office for a long time now. It has been clear because Putin’s actions and rhetoric demonstrate day in and day out that Ukraine can never be secure as long as he remains in office.
In light of the recent battlefield losses of its army, the Russian public is starting to understand that it may lose this war, and Putin's attempt at a "partial mobilization" of some 300,000 reservists has gone over like a lead balloon. It has done little to bolster forces in the field and in fact has resulted in the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Russians to neighboring countries.
Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand Putin's increasing desperation. In a long and rambling speech Friday, Putin said: “The West wants to see us as a colony, a crowd of soulless slaves,” but he added that the Ukrainian people in the territories Russia has illegally occupied “are becoming our citizens, forever.”
Putin added: “This is an inalienable right of people. It is based on historical unity, in the name of which the generations of our ancestors won, those who from the origins of ancient Russia for centuries created and defended Russia.”
6 Bits Of News From The War In Ukraine You May Have Missed
Ukrainian forces continue to push forward, but Putin isn't backing down.Kyiv is successfully pushing back the frontline of the war, forcing Russia’s troops off Ukrainian land. Meanwhile, Moscow is upping the ante through more and more extreme measures.
Vast majorities of Ukrainians reject this notion. And so far the only nation to recognize Russia's illegal annexation is North Korea.
Both President Biden and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres have rejected the annexations as unlawful, and a UN resolution has called on all members not to recognize the actions, but Russia vetoed it.
Guterres noted: “Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from a threat or use of force is a violation of the principle seizures of the UN charter and international law.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made it clear that his country will never negotiate with Putin. Zelenskyy also announced he was applying for “accelerated accession” into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with the intent of arguing for opposing the annexations of the four Ukrainian regions.
But it appears unlikely the effort would be successful, because NATO’s charter includes a collective defense clause noting it would be required to send forces to fight in Russia, which the alliance would not be expected to agree to do. Biden has already said he will not send Americans to fight in Russia in Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities take stock of ruins in liberated Lyman
LYMAN, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities are just beginning to sift through the wreckage of the devastated city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine as they assess the humanitarian toll, and possibility of war crimes, from a months-long Russian occupation. Few of the buildings in the city in the Donetsk region — an area which Moscow illegally claimed as Russian territory last week following a staged “referendum” — have survived without damage, and most houses are without basic utilities.
Biden made it clear that the United States and its allies are determined to defend "every inch" of NATO territory. In high level contacts between U.S. and Russian diplomats, the administration reportedly also issued a stern warning of catastrophic consequences if Russia follows through on threats to use nuclear weapons.
What those consequences might be and how they might be implemented, however, was not made public.
So in the end, the war of words and the war of bullets and artillery continue apace, neither going well for Russia and Putin.
The challenge for Biden — and one at which he has so far succeeded — is to continue supporting Ukraine's defense without provoking a wider global conflict.
(Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power,” published by Smithsonian Books. You can respond to this column at.)
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