The United States and its allies are seeking to deal Russia a "strategic failure" in Ukraine to discourage other countries from attempting similar moves, President Joe Biden's key European envoy said.
"I think the discussions that I've been having with other ambassadors and permanent representatives here at the OSCE centers on the fact that this is a challenge to the world order, what Russia is doing, and that if Russia is not dealt a strategic failure, it will embolden other revanchist and aggressive countries to pursue similar aims," Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told The Hill via phone from Vienna.
"Future leaders are going to look back on this moment and realize what a horrendous mistake this was."
Carpenter also warned that the U.S. and its allies "have to be prepared for a protracted war." He said it remained unclear whether the massive economic sanctions being imposed against Russia were "sufficient to change minds in the Kremlin."
The U.S. is one of 57 participant states in the OSCE, which also includes Russia.
Carpenter, who was confirmed as ambassador to the OSCE in November, said the future of the war depended on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"The calculation that's made in one man's head, and the calculations that that one leader has made over the course of last month, are — they don't seem to be grounded in a realistic understanding of the situation," Carpenter told The Hill.
The ambassador said Putin's power within Russia was being eroded by the exodus of tens of thousands of educated, professional workers who have fled the country since the unprovoked attack on Ukraine began Feb. 24.
"As much as they love their country, they can no longer live in a country that is ruled by this sort of regime and so they are leaving," Carpenter told The Hill.
Carpenter, who served as an adviser to then-Vice President Biden, repeated the president's claims that Russia would face severe consequences if it used chemical weapons.
"I'm not going to go further than the president on this," he said. "That is what he said and that is what he intends to do."
Carpenter also repeated Biden's commitment not to send American troops to Ukraine but added that the U.S. will provide President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with military defensive materials.
"President Biden has been very clear that the U.S. is not going to get sucked into a third world war, we're not going to engage in combat against the Russian Federation," Carpenter told The Hill.
The OSCE, established in the 1970s, works to preserve peace and resolve conflict on the European continent.
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