The US and its allies are quietly working on “contingency plans” in case Russian forces succeed in their operation in Ukraine and force the current government into exile, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The prospects of Russian troops seizing the Ukrainian capital, Kiev have sparked “a flurry of planning” at the US State Department, the media outlet reported. Washington allegedly expects the weapons America and its allies are currently pumping into Ukraine to be used during the protracted insurgency they expect to follow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will take the role of “the pivotal force” rallying Ukrainians to continue fighting Russia, according to reports.
“We’re doing contingency planning now for every possibility,” a US administration official told the Washington Post, adding that one such possibility involves Zelensky establishing a government-in-exile in Poland.
On Friday, NBC News reported that a group of House conservatives met with Robert O’Brien, former US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, who urged them to support Zelensky’s government regardless of where it relocates.
“We should recognize them as a government in exile, in Warsaw or in London, and we ought to refer to Ukraine as occupied Ukraine,” O’Brien told NBC after the meeting. Lawmakers in Washington believe there is “substantial value” in Zelensky remaining in Ukraine, including a “political advantage,” an “optics advantage,” and a “morale advantage,” but not if his life is in jeopardy, NBC reported.
Another part of the plan is to support what the US calls a future “pro-independence” insurgency, including through supplying it with arms. Two members of the House Intelligence Committee – Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio) – are currently pushing for bipartisan legislation requiring the Biden administration to develop an insurgency support strategy, according to NBC.
“We have to make sure that they are equipped with lethal and non-lethal assistance, as well as intelligence, to fight off the Russians,” Krishnamoorthi told NBC News on Friday.
Representative Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts), a former Marine Corps infantry officer who served in Iraq and visited Ukraine last December, advocates supplying Ukrainians with small arms, ammunition, and explosives to equip them for guerrilla fights. “Think about the kinds of things that would be used by saboteurs as opposed to an army repelling a frontal invasion,” he told Washington Post.
The Biden administration has not made any official comments on the alleged plans to support a potential insurgency in Ukraine. According to the Washington Post, US and NATO officials are wary of openly supporting such ideas out of fear of being drawn into direct confrontation with Moscow.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared the massive sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia over its attack on Ukraine to a “declaration of war.” So far, the Russian military action launched on February 24 has sparked fierce condemnation in the West and resulted in the US and allies slapping Moscow with unprecedented sanctions targeting Russia’s finances, banking sector, aviation, and space industry.
Moscow maintains its invasion of Ukraine is aimed at protecting the people of the Donbass republics, which it recently recognized, as well as at “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” Ukraine. Kiev insists the attack was unprovoked, maintaining it had no plans to retake the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions by force.