Experts have said Russia appears content to grind down Ukraine’s resolve in the conflict rather than risk losing yet more troops in an all-out assault, and that wearing down the patience of Kyiv’s Western allies appears to be a key part of that strategy.
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the Biden administation has dedicated over $60bn in aid to Ukraine, with a significant portion exceeding the $43bn budget allocated for military assistance. Further funding is being held up by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, with Democrats outraged by the latest GOP efforts to tie Ukraine aid to a crackdown on immigration to the US.
A senior US State Department official made the suggestion after a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels during which they agreed that a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia was unlikely to come within the next year.
“My expectation is that Putin won’t make a peace or a meaningful peace before he sees the result of our election," said the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The official said it was a “widely shared premise” at the meeting and not his personal opinion.
The participants in the Nato meeting expressed strong support for Ukraine as they agreed that a peace deal was not on the cards in the short term.
The official did not directly mention former president Donald Trump or how the election result would affect Western support for Ukraine.
But Mr Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has criticised the Biden administration for its financial support and military exports to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. He has also lavishly praised the Russian leader in the past and emphasised he had a good relationship with him.
Mr Trump has said that he would end Russia’s invasion in a day if he won back the White House, without explaining how he would do so.
And he has called on Congress to withhold additional Ukraine funding till the FBI, IRS and Justice Department “hand over every scrap of evidence” on the Biden family’s business dealings.
“We believe that the support will be there and will be sustained even if there are some dissident voices on the other side of the aisle,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in August. “We believe that at the core there is still a strong bipartisan foundation of support for our Ukraine policy and for supporting and defending Ukraine.”
Opinion polls see Mr Trump and Mr Biden as locked in a tight race for the White House, with Mr Trump marginally leading his Democratic rival. A hypothetical head-to-head Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in mid-November gave Mr Trump 51 per cent to Mr Biden’s 49 per cent.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky recently invited Mr Trump to fly in to Kyiv himself to see the scale of the conflict, as he called for more aid from Washington.
“If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes – yes, 24 minutes… to explain (to) President Trump that he can’t manage this war. He can’t bring peace because of Putin,” Mr Zelensky said.