Does Putin have an exit strategy?

Does Putin have an exit strategy?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has no exit strategy for the Ukraine war – and that is a problem for the West, President Joe Biden says.

Biden, speaking Monday at a political fundraiser outside Washington, said Putin had mistakenly believed the invasion of Ukraine would break up NATO and weaken the European Union, according to a Reuters report.

Less than a decade ago, Russia stormed into Crimea with little international resistance. But much of the western world rallied behind Ukraine when Moscow sent troops into the heart of the country, rolling to within miles of the capital Kyiv. Russian troops have reportedly taken heavy losses while gaining limited ground across Ukraine.

Biden said Putin is a very calculating man who “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that.”

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Latest developments:

►One person was killed and five were wounded when Russian forces fired seven missiles from the air at Odesa on Monday night, hitting a shopping center and a warehouse, the Ukrainian military said.

►The United States is suspending 25% import taxes on Ukraine’s steel in a show of support for the country’s beleaguered economy during the Russian invasion.

Many badly wounded fighters are among the 1,000 Ukrainian troops still holed up at the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, the last major holdout in the port city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Tuesday. About 100 civilians also remain trapped in the maze of bunkers and tunnels, she said.

“Hundreds are injured,” Vereshchuk told AFP. “There are people with serious injuries who require urgent evacuation. The situation is deteriorating every day.”

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said Russian bombardments have targeted the complex dozens of times in the last day or so.

“It is easier to say when the shelling does not happen than when it happens,” he said. “Aviation and artillery are almost constantly at work there.”

Russian troops have overwhelmed most of the embattled city, home to 450,000 people before the war. Local officials say fewer than 100,000 remain, but Russia has struggled to complete a takeover that would deprive Ukraine of an important port while providing Russia with a land corridor to the Crimean peninsula and a staging area to send troops elsewhere in the country.

Career foreign service officer Bridget Brink, President Joe Biden’s nominee for US ambassador to Ukraine, faces a confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lawmakers are likely to use the session to grill Brink – not just about her credentials and plans for reopening the US Embassy in Kyiv but also about the Biden administration’s broader effort to help Ukraine repel Russia’s military assault. Brink currently serves as ambassador to the Slovak Republic. Senate Democrats are likely to push for her quick confirmation, saying she is highly qualified and desperately needed.

“Particularly as Russian forces bear down in communities across Ukraine with horrifying violence, having an ambassador placed is essential to coordinate key military and humanitarian assistance and help our partners defend themselves,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.

Deirdre Shesgreen and Maureen Groppe

The House of Representatives will vote on sending billions more in aid to Ukraine on Tuesday, the day after President Joe Biden conceded he would separate his $33 billion emergency request for Ukraine from the billions he’s seeking in pandemic funding. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House would vote Tuesday on the aid to Ukraine. Congressional Democrats are pushing to boost Biden’s requested $33 billion in aid to almost $40 billion.

There has been historic bipartisan support for helping Ukraine, but Republicans have complained that Biden is seeking too much additional pandemic funding. Biden warned the funding must be passed within about 10 days to avoid delay, calling on lawmakers to “get it to my desk in the next few days.

Some analysts and Western officials braced for Russian President Vladimir Putin to ramp up attacks or declare victory in the war in Ukraine on the Country’s Victory Daythe nation’s largest public holiday.

But Putin refrained from doing so during his speech in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, instead sticking with the phrase he’s used since Feb. 24 to describe Russia’s invasion: “special military operation.” He didn’t declare victory over Ukraine, and there was no discernible or markedly noticeable increase in attacks Monday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also celebrated Victory Day in Ukraine Monday, promising that Ukraine will soon have two Victory Days: one celebrating the defeat of Nazism in Europe, and the other celebrating Ukraine’s victory against Russia.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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