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Blinken says Russia suffering ‘strategic defeat,’ NATO chief sees shift in strategy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels on March 4, 2022 (Photo by Reuters)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims Russia has already experienced a “strategic defeat” in its war against Ukraine, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Moscow is shifting its strategy and not withdrawing from the country.

“If you step back and look at this, this has already been a dramatic strategic setback for Russia, and I would say a strategic defeat,” Blinken told CNN on Sunday when asked about additional sanctions Washington may impose on Russia.

The US diplomat claimed Russia has already failed in the three main goals it had at the start of its military campaign in Ukraine.

“They had three aims going into this. One was to subjugate Ukraine to Russia’s will, to take away its sovereignty and independence. The second was to assert Russian power. The third was to divide the West and NATO. On all three fronts, its already lost,” Blinken said.

“Ukraine, its sovereignty and independence is gonna be there a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is gonna be on the scene, the Russian military has dramatically underperformed, its economy is reeling, and the west, NATO are more united than any time I can remember,” he added.

An American political analyst rejected Blinken’s assertions, saying, “This is what's known in marketing and public relations as repositioning a disadvantaged outcome to a victory. This is what you do when you lose and have to explain it to someone.”

“For example, a child with a report card with four D's and an F, when asked by their parents how they did, might say ‘I could have done worse,’" he said.

“In this case, Blinken is not specific as to Russia's actual goals. Rather he is referring to the western press's caricature of Russia's actual goals, which in essence can be reduced to removing the threat from their border in military and political terms and of sending a message to the West that no further encroachment would be allowed. I believe those have already been accomplished and, in fact, Blinken admits as much."

Meanwhile, the NATO secretary-general on Sunday rejected the idea that Russia could be withdrawing from Ukraine.

“What we see is not a real withdrawal, what we see is that Russia is re-positioning its troops and they are taking some of them back to rearm them, to reinforce them, to resupply them, but we should not in a way be too optimistic because the attacks will continue,” Stoltenberg told CNN.

“And we are also concerned about potential increased attacks especially in the south and in the east. So this is not a real withdrawal but more a shift in the strategy, focusing more on the south and the east,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” on February 24 to demilitarize Donetsk and Luhansk, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine.

The United States and its European allies have labeled the military operation as “Putin’s land grab,” imposing unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

The Biden administration has imposed harsh economic and banking sanctions on Russia in response to Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

Biden said the sanctions would limit Russia's ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen.

The US president claimed that the only other alternative to the sanctions would be to start a “Third World War.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Western sanctions on Russia were akin to a declaration of war.

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