Biden Says Putin ‘Already Lost the War’ in Ukraine

HELSINKI—The Russian war against Ukraine is all but over, President Joe Biden asserted on July 13, saying Putin has “already lost the war.”

The remark came during a press conference welcoming Finland into the NATO alliance.

Standing alongside Finland President Sauli Niinisto, Mr. Biden responded to questions about the possibility of Ukraine’s entering NATO after the war and whether the president’s comments to that effect would discourage Russian President Vladimir Putin from entering peace talks.

In response, Mr. Biden reasserted that no nation could join the mutual defense organization while engaged in a war because that would immediately escalate the conflict.

“No one can join NATO while a war is going on where a NATO nation has been attacked because that guarantees that we’re in a war—and we’re in a Third World War,” he said.

Mr. Biden went on to say Ukraine would be admitted to the alliance but that the timing had yet to be determined.

As to whether the prospect of Ukraine’s entering NATO would prolong the war, he said: “The answer is Putin has already lost the war. Putin has a real problem. How does he move from here? What does he do?”

The comment seemed to refer both to Russia’s inability to achieve victory on the battlefield and to growing unrest in the military following the June 23 mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Mr. Putin’s who headed the Wagner Group, a private army funded by the Russian government.

A top Russian general fighting in Ukraine was ousted on July 12, reportedly for criticizing Russian military strategy.

Endpoint Uncertain

Mr. Putin can’t ultimately succeed in the war, according to Mr. Biden, but it’s uncertain how the remainder of the conflict will play out.

“He could end the war tomorrow. He could just say, ‘I’m out.’ But what agreement is ultimately reached depends upon Putin and what he decides to do. But there is no possibility of him winning the war in Ukraine. He’s already lost that war,” Mr. Biden said.

Having said that, the president doubted that the war could drag on indefinitely.

“I don’t think the war can go on for years for two reasons. No. 1, I don’t think that Russia could maintain the war forever in terms of their resources and capacity,” Mr. Biden said.

Nearly 50,000 Russians have been killed in Ukraine, according to an independent statistical analysis reported on July 10. The Russian media outlets Mediazona and Meduza, working with a data scientist from Tubingen University, arrived at the figure after analyzing Russian government mortality data, inheritance claims, and even photographs of cemeteries.

European Union countries imposed new economic sanctions on Russia in June, including barring the export of sensitive technology to countries that may reexport them to Russia.

At the same time, Ukraine’s allies pledged billions of dollars in nonmilitary funding to rebuild and strengthen the war-ravaged country.

“I think that there is going to be a circumstance where, eventually, President Putin is going to decide it’s not in the interest of Russia, economically, politically, or otherwise, to continue this war,” Mr. Biden said.

“But I can’t predict exactly how that happens. My hope is, and expectation is, you’ll see that Ukraine makes significant progress on their offensive and that it generates a negotiated settlement somewhere along the line.”

US Opinion Mixed

Mr. Biden isn’t the first to claim that Mr. Putin has essentially been defeated already.

“He’s lost this war. Ukraine has not won this war, but Russia has lost it,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said during a March 29 discussion at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.

“He will never, ever [permanently] occupy Ukraine.”

Mr. Risch said Mr. Putin had initially hoped the attack on Ukraine would fracture the NATO alliance.

At the same time, some Americans have come to question the level of support the country should offer to Ukraine.

“We’re all concerned about accountability,” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) told Pentagon officials during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in February, near the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the conflict.

Mr. Wilson wanted to ensure a full accounting of how U.S. dollars were being spent in the war effort.

“How many more times do you think Congress needs to provide aid?” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) asked. “What do you think, at the end, is the end game?”

While Mr. Biden has pledged continued support for Ukraine, opinion is mixed among candidates for next year’s presidential election.

Former President Donald Trump said the war wasn’t a vital U.S. interest during a May 11 town-hall-style event broadcast by CNN.

“If I’m president, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours,” Mr. Trump said. “First, I’ll meet with Putin, I’ll meet with Zelenskyy. They both have weaknesses and they both have strengths. And within 24 hours, that war will be settled. It will be over. It will be absolutely over.”

In a March interview on Fox News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis referred to the war as a “territorial dispute” that doesn’t directly concern the United States.

In a June 4 interview with ABC News, entrepreneur and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said the war isn’t an interest of the United States’.

Other candidates strongly favor supporting Ukraine’s war effort as a vital national interest.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has said that if Russia defeats Ukraine, it would soon attack other European nations, directly involving the United States as a NATO ally.

“There’s only one pathway towards success here, and that is to give the Ukrainian military—much more quickly than Joe Biden has done—what they need to repel the Russian invasion and reclaim their country,” Mr. Pence said during a July 10 interview on Fox News.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said during a June 4 town-hall-style event hosted by CNN: “A win for Ukraine is a win for all of us because tyrants tell us exactly what they’re going to do. Russia said Poland and the Baltics are next. If that happens, we’re looking at a world war. This is about preventing war.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have also made statements advocating for support for Ukraine.

Andrew Thornebrooke and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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