Critics charge that building all 12 terminals would produce an excess capacity. But even half that number would produce three-quarters of the carbon emissions Germany is allowed under international agreements, according to a recent report published by a German environmental watchdog. The terminals would be in use until 2043, far too long for Germany to become carbon neutral by 2045, as pledged by Mr. Scholz’s government.

And countries are not just investing in infrastructure at home.

Last month, Mr. Scholz was in Senegal, one of the developing countries invited to the Group of 7 summit, to discuss cooperating not just on renewables but also on gas extraction and L.N.G. production.

In promoting the Senegal gas project, analysts say, Berlin is violating its own Group of 7 commitment not to offer public financing guarantees for fossil fuel projects abroad.

These contradictions have not gone unnoticed by poorer nations, which are wondering how Group of 7 countries can push for commitments to climate targets while also investing in gas production and distribution.

One explanation is a level of lobbying among fossil fuel companies not seen for years, activists say.

“It looks to me like an attempt by the oil and gas industry to end-run the Paris Agreement,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, an advisory group in Berlin, referring to the landmark 2015 international treaty on climate change. “And I’m very worried they might succeed.”

Ms. Morgan in the German Foreign Ministry shares some of these concerns. “They’re doing everything that they can to move it forward, also in Africa,” she said of the industry. “They want to lock it in. Not just gas, but oil and gas and coal.”

But she and others are still hopeful that the Group of 7 can become a platform for tying climate goals to energy security.

Environmental and foreign policy analysts argue that the Group of 7 could support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, while pledging funds for poorer nations hit with the brunt of climate disasters.

Above all, activists warn, rich countries need to resist the temptation to react to the short-term energy shortages by once again betting on fossil fuel infrastructure.

“All the arguments are on the table now,” said Ms. Neubauer, the Fridays for Future activist. “We know exactly what fossil fuels do to the climate. We also know very well that Putin is not the only autocrat in the world. We know that no democracy can be truly free and secure as long as it depends on fossil fuel imports.”

Katrin Bennhold Bennhold reported from Berlin, and Jim Tankersley from Telfs, Austria. Erika Solomon and Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Berlin.

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Ukraine News: Russia Calls E.U. Move to Advance Ukraine’s Joining ‘Hostile’

Credit…Nariman El-Mofty/Associated Press

BRUSSELS — The European Union officially made Ukraine a candidate for membership on Thursday, signaling in the face of a devastating Russian military onslaught that it sees Ukraine’s future as lying in an embrace of the democratic West.

While Ukraine’s accession into the bloc could take a decade or more, the decision sends a powerful message of solidarity to Kyiv and a rebuke to Moscow, which has worked for more than a decade to keep Ukraine from building Western ties.

The step was seen as almost impossible mere weeks ago, not least because Ukraine was seen as too far behind in terms of eliminating corruption and instituting economic reforms.

But the decision to nonetheless give it candidate status was another leap for European nations that have been rapidly shedding preconceptions and reservations to back Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

“Agreement,” Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said on Twitter. “A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU.”

Candidacy in the European Union, which the 27 E.U. leaders also granted to Moldova, is a milestone but little else. It signals that a nation is in position, if certain conditions are met, to begin a very detailed, painstaking and yearslong process of changes and negotiations with the bloc, with a view to eventually joining.

When that might happen depends on the readiness of the country in question, which must align itself institutionally, democratically, economically and legally to E.U. laws and norms. On average, the process has taken other countries about 10 years; Turkey has been a candidate for 21 years, but is unlikely to join.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called the E.U. move “one of the most important decisions for Ukraine” in its 30 years as an independent state.

“This is the greatest step toward strengthening Europe that could be taken right now, in our time, and precisely in the context of the Russian war, which is testing our ability to preserve freedom and unity,” Mr. Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

The European Union began in 1952 as a free-trade bloc among a core six nations. It has grown through the years to not only include huge swaths of the European continent, but also to encompass policies far beyond trade and economics, although those remain its strongest and best-aligned types of joint work.

The war in Ukraine has forced the European Union into foreign policy, defense and military alignment, areas that it is both politically uncomfortable with and legally underqualified to address. Although no substitute for NATO, the bloc could in future years — by the time Ukraine actually joins — develop into more of a military union.

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy, the largest E.U. nations, gave a preview of the decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine in a visit last week to its capital, Kyiv. Still, a handful of member countries needed to be convinced that despite Ukraine’s unreadiness to join the union, it was vital to give it the prospect.

Important as the moment is for Ukraine, it is deeply significant for the European Union, too. Most members had been eager to keep the bloc from growing, partly because its 27 members already find it at times exceedingly hard to agree on key issues like democratic freedoms, economic overhauls and the role of the courts.

The bloc nearly doubled in size in the decade from 2004 to 2014, adding 13 members, many of them poorer former Soviet nations that swiftly gained access to wealthier labor markets and ample funding by the bloc.

That integration is still not complete, with several nations struggling with corruption, rule-of-law issues and economic backsliding. This calls into question the bloc’s capacity to absorb a country of Ukraine’s size and population.

Some European nations would have also liked to see Albania and North Macedonia, Balkan nations that have been candidates for more than a decade, admitted before Ukraine. Western Balkan leaders met with their E.U. counterparts earlier Thursday, but the meeting yielded no progress.

The move to grant Ukraine’s candidacy is bound to irritate Russia, which has described Ukraine’s aspirations to align itself with Western institutions like NATO and the European Union as a provocation and interference in its sphere of influence.

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Russia’s Blockade of Ukraine Is ‘War Crime,’ Top E.U. Official Says

LONDON — The Russian blockade that has stopped Ukraine from exporting its vast storehouses of grain and other goods, threatening starvation in distant corners of the globe, is a “war crime,” the European Union’s top foreign policy official declared Monday.

The remarks by the official, Josep Borrell Fontelles, were among the strongest language from a Western leader in describing the Kremlin’s tactics to subjugate Ukraine nearly four months after it invaded, and with no end to the conflict in sight.

Before Russian forces began pounding Ukraine in February, it was a major exporter of grain, cooking oil and fertilizer. But the Black Sea blockade — along with Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian farmland and its destruction of agricultural infrastructure — has brought exports to a near standstill. The latest blow came Monday, when, Ukrainian regional authorities said, a Russian missile razed a food warehouse in Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest Black Sea port.

arriving in Luxembourg for a meeting of E.U. foreign ministers. “Millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world, people are suffering hunger. This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine made the same point in a remote address to the African Union on Monday. Moscow has deep ties to many African countries, which have been reluctant to criticize the invasion.

similar announcement on Sunday by Germany, Europe’s biggest economy. Denmark said it was also activating a plan to deal with looming shortages of gas that had been supplied by Russia.

The developments came as Russia, far from feeling the pain of lost fuel sales, found a savior in China, which reported on Monday that it was now the biggest buyer of Russian oil.

considering a suspension of fuel taxes to ease the strain on consumers.

NBC News, Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said that the two Americans, Alex Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, were “soldiers of fortune” who had been engaged in shelling and firing on Russian forces and should be “held responsible for the crimes they have committed.”

The sanctions imposed on Russia also played a role on Monday in an escalating confrontation with Lithuania, a member of both the European Union and NATO.

The Russian authorities threatened Lithuania with retaliation if the Baltic country did not swiftly reverse its ban on the transportation of some goods to Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave between Lithuania and Poland. Citing instructions from the European Union, Lithuania’s railway on Friday said it was halting the movement of goods from Russia that have been sanctioned by the European bloc.

Mr. Peskov told reporters the situation was “more than serious.” He called the new restrictions “an element of a blockade” of the region and a “violation of everything.”

small town of Toshkivka in Luhansk Province, part of the eastern region known as Donbas. That is where Russian forces have concentrated much of their military power as part of a plan to seize the region after having failed to occupy other parts of the country, including Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, in northern Ukraine.

Reports over the weekend suggested that Russian forces had broken through the Ukrainian front line in Toshkivka, about 12 miles southeast of the metropolitan area of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. Those are the last major cities in Luhansk not to have fallen into Russian hands. As of Monday, it remained unclear whether Russia had made any further advance there.

But Ukrainian officials said Russian forces had intensified shelling in and around Kharkiv, weeks after the Ukrainians had pushed them back, suggesting that Moscow still had territorial ambitions beyond Donbas.

“We de-occupied this region,” Mr. Zelensky said in an address to a conference of international policy experts in Italy. “And they want to do it again.”

Matthew Mpoke Bigg reported from London, Andrew Higgins from Warsaw, Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Druzhkivka, Ukraine, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Valerie Hopkins and Oleksandr Chubko from Kyiv; Dan Bilefsky from Montreal; Monika Pronczuk from Brussels; Austin Ramzy from Hong Kong; Stanley Reed from London; and Zach Montague from Rehoboth Beach, Del.

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Struggling in Ukraine’s East, Russian Forces Strike in Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces pressed hard on Sunday to take the town of Sievierodonetsk, one of the last obstacles to seizing the region of Luhansk. But as so often in this grinding war of attrition, the Russian Army is finding the going difficult, with Ukrainian forces making counterattacks and seizing back some of the town.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who said he visited frontline troops near Sievierodonetsk on Sunday, said that fighting was being waged street by street and that the situation was “extremely difficult.” The city is largely in ruins, and thousands of civilians are still sheltering in basements there.

Capturing Sievierodonetsk would deliver the Luhansk region to Russian forces and their local separatist allies, who also control much of neighboring Donetsk. But their inability to take ground quickly and their persistent vulnerability to determined Ukrainian fighters again show that the Russian war plan has not gone according to Moscow’s expectations.

Even as it struggled in the east, Moscow offered a reminder Sunday that it retains the power to lash out in much of Ukraine, hitting Kyiv, the capital, for the first time in more than a month. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, angered by the impending arrival in Ukraine of long-range missiles from the West, warned that Moscow may hit hitherto unscathed targets.

he threatened “to strike targets we haven’t hit before” if Western countries supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles, but he provided no specifics.

Speaking to the state-run Rossiya TV network, Mr. Putin was asked about the U.S. announcement that it would supply Ukraine with a more sophisticated rocket system that could strike targets some 40 miles away. Even as he warned about new Russian targets, he sought to play down the rocket deliveries, suggesting that Western nations were just replenishing stocks of similar weapons that Ukraine had depleted.

Russia has been irritated by the U.S. decision to supply Ukraine with HIMARS truck-mounted multiple-launch rocket systems, with missiles that have a range of up to 40 miles, greater than anything Ukraine currently possesses. Since the invasion, the Pentagon has provided Ukraine with 108 M777 howitzers. But the range of the HIMARS missiles is more than twice that of the 155-mm shells fired by howitzers.

five missiles hit near the Darnytsia railway station and Pozniaky, a residential neighborhood, wounding one person.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that the missiles had struck a railway repair workshop and destroyed an unspecified number of Soviet-era T-72 tanks delivered by Eastern European nations. Poland and the Czech Republic have sent hundreds of such tanks to Ukraine. Ukrainian officials denied that any tanks had been destroyed.

several powerful explosions early Sunday in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, rattling windows miles away. Kramatorsk, which serves as the provincial capital for Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Donetsk region, has been repeatedly struck by missiles but has escaped the sweeping destruction in other towns. There were no reports of injuries in Sunday’s attack, which hit industrial areas.

in a Twitter message that talk of humiliation was not the point. The real question, he said, is: “How to defeat Russia while offering it a way out? To avoid an everlasting war, the temptation of escalation and the total devastation of Ukraine.”

Tone matters, Mr. Araud wrote in English.

“The word ‘humiliate’ is giving to the debate an emotional and moral tone which is a dead end,” he said. “In foreign policy, at the end of a war, there are a winner and a loser or, which is much likelier in this case, there is a stalemate. A stalemate means an ever-going war or a compromise.”

Helene von Bismarck, a German historian, said that what was most annoying about Mr. Macron’s talk of humiliation “is not just that it sounds callous, after Bucha, but that it is yet another example of discussing the long-term relationship with Russia as if it wasn’t influenced by the short-term development of the war.”

But the strain of the long war was evident even in Estonia, whose prime minister, Kaja Kallas, has been one of the most outspoken voices urging a Russian defeat and Mr. Putin’s isolation.

Ms. Kallas dissolved her coalition government on Saturday, firing seven Centre party ministers from the 15-strong cabinet, including the foreign minister, Eva-Maria Liimets. The dismissal of the Centre ministers followed weeks of political deadlock, including a vote on an education bill in which Centre voted against the government and with a far-right opposition party.

Ms. Kallas, who is seeking to create a new coalition to avoid early elections, cited the need for unity during this war to explain her actions. She said she hoped that the war “would have opened the eyes of all the parliamentary parties to the importance of a common understanding of the threats for us as a country neighboring Russia.”

Valerie Hopkins reported from Kyiv, and Steven Erlanger from Brussels. Reporting was contributed from Andrew E. Kramer from Kramatorsk, Ukraine; Neil MacFarquhar from Istanbul; and Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia.

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Ukraine Live Updates: U.S. Says It Wants Russian Military Weakened

Smoke hung over the gray streets that day in Kyiv, where protesters had piled tires, furniture and barbed wire to barricade themselves from security forces. Torn blue and yellow Ukrainian flags whipped in the wind, and candles left on sidewalks marked where people had been gunned down. A drawing of a reviled president depicted as a pig was tacked to a lamp post.

And yet there was a feeling of hope in Kyiv in March 2014, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry met with survivors of a violent crackdown on demonstrations. He commended the Ukrainians for their bravery in confronting a Kremlin-backed leader and promised that the United States would support the new government.

But Russian forces had moved into Crimea, Ukraine’s peninsula on the Black Sea, and Mr. Kerry warned: “It is clear that Russia has been working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further.”

Eight years later, with Russian troops obliterating Ukrainian cities and towns, Mr. Kerry’s words seem eerily prescient.

Through the administrations of three American presidents, the United States has sent mixed signals about its commitment to Ukraine. All the while, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia watched Washington’s moves, biding his time.

“We’ve been all over the place on Ukraine,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia and Eurasia expert who advised the three administrations before President Biden. “Our own frames have shifted over time, and our own policies have shifted.”

“I think we need to re-articulate why Ukraine matters,” she said.

Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Now, two months into Mr. Putin’s war, the United States is at the center of an extraordinary campaign to foil him, casting the military conflict as a broader battle between democratic values and authoritarian might.

“It’s nothing less than a direct challenge to the rule-based international order established since the end of World War II,” Mr. Biden said in Warsaw last month. “And it threatens to return to decades of war that ravaged Europe before the international rule-based order was put in place. We cannot go back to that.”

The United States has rushed weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and imposed sanctions intended to cut off Russia from global markets. This past weekend, Mr. Biden sent Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III to Ukraine as affirmation of Washington’s support.

After a secret train ride from Poland, the two spoke with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Sunday about military aid. Mr. Austin said the Pentagon would expand training for Ukrainians on weapons systems; Mr. Blinken said Mr. Biden was nominating Bridget Brink, currently the ambassador to Slovakia, as his ambassador to Ukraine, the State Department said in a readout. The department is sending American diplomats back to Ukraine this week.

In many ways, officials said, Mr. Biden is trying to make up for the years of U.S. indecisiveness toward Kyiv. Those who wavered earlier include top Biden aides who had worked in the Obama administration as well as officials in the administration of Donald J. Trump, who undermined U.S. policy on Ukraine for personal political gain, according to current and former officials and a review of records.

The Roots of War

Since the earliest days of Ukraine’s independence, in 1991, American officials have recognized the country’s strategic value as Russia struggled to find its footing after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had been the national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, wrote in a March 1994 essay. “But with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.”

Two months earlier, under pressure from the United States, Ukraine had reached an agreement to destroy its nuclear arsenal. President Bill Clinton heralded the pact as “a hopeful and historic breakthrough” to improve global security. But Ukraine’s leader, President Leonid Kuchma, warned that it would make his fledgling country more vulnerable.

“If tomorrow, Russia goes into Crimea, no one will raise an eyebrow,” he said that year.

At the time, Moscow was already goading a separatist movement in Crimea, even as Mr. Clinton predicted that Ukraine would become a major European power.

Yet over the next decade, experts said, NATO left out Ukraine to avoid angering Russia, which some members saw as an important economic partner and energy supplier and hoped would evolve into a more democratic and less threatening power.

The Baltic States joined NATO in 2004, and four years later, President George W. Bush publicly backed Ukraine’s ambition to follow. But Western European nations were reluctant. Today, Ukraine is neither a NATO member nor a part of the European Union, and officials cautioned as recently as this month that its inclusion in either was far from likely.

Years after Mr. Bush’s show of support, a new Ukrainian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, tried to move the country closer to Russia, sparking mass protests in November 2013 when he refused to sign a long-planned agreement to strengthen ties with the European Union.

That led to the crackdown in Kyiv’s streets in 2014.

Security forces opened fire on protesters in central Kyiv in February that year, killing dozens. Protesters held their ground, attracting public support in Europe and the United States. Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia.

“In the hearts of Ukrainians and the eyes of the world, there is nothing strong about what Russia is doing,” Mr. Kerry said during his visit to Kyiv.

Within days, Mr. Putin ordered the invasion of Crimea, and he soon formally recognized it as a “sovereign and independent state.”

A slow-burn war in eastern Ukraine followed, with Kyiv battling a separatist movement supported by Russian weapons and troops. An estimated 13,000 people were killed over the next eight years.

Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

Mr. Putin’s swift actions caught President Barack Obama off guard.

Mr. Obama vowed the United States would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and imposed economic sanctions, but his aides said in later accounts that he was skeptical of Ukraine’s corruption-ridden government.

And Mr. Obama said in a 2016 interview that a showdown with Mr. Putin over Ukraine would have been futile.

His administration gave more than $1.3 billion in assistance to Ukraine between 2014 and 2016, but Mr. Obama said no when his national security team, including Mr. Biden and Mr. Kerry, recommended sending weapons to Kyiv.

Among Mr. Obama’s defenders was Mr. Blinken, then the deputy secretary of state and now America’s top diplomat.

By sending military aid to Ukraine, “you’re playing to Russia’s strength, because Russia is right next door,” Mr. Blinken, then the deputy secretary of state, said in early 2015.

Any aid, he added, “is likely to be matched and then doubled and tripled and quadrupled by Russia.”

Neither the Obama administration nor its key European allies believed Ukraine was ready to join NATO. But tensions in the alliance were growing as Europeans sought to maintain trade ties and energy deals with Russia.

The division was captured in a phone call in which a senior State Department official profanely criticized European leaders’ approach to helping Ukraine. A leaked recording of the call was posted on YouTube in February 2014 in what was widely believed to be an attempt by Russia to stir up discord between the United States and Europe.

Yet as much as anything else, Ukraine was a costly distraction to Mr. Obama’s broader agenda.

“It was hard to reconcile the time and energy required to lead the diplomacy on Ukraine with the demands on the United States elsewhere around the world, especially after ISIS took over much of Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014,” Derek H. Chollet, a senior Pentagon official at the time, wrote in a book about Mr. Obama’s foreign policy.

Mr. Chollet is now a senior counselor to Mr. Blinken at the State Department.

‘Do Us a Favor’

Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian, won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential elections in April 2019 after campaigning on an anti-corruption pledge.

Once in office, he turned to ending the war in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine through negotiations with Mr. Putin.

The new Ukrainian president “knew he needed the backing of the United States and the American president,” said William B. Taylor Jr., who started his second tour as ambassador to Ukraine that June after his predecessor, Marie L. Yovanovitch, was pushed out on Mr. Trump’s orders.

Mr. Zelensky tried to arrange a meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House. But Mr. Trump had negative views of Ukraine even before he took office, influenced partly by his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who had made more than $60 million consulting for a Ukrainian political party backed by Russia.

Mr. Trump’s opinions were reinforced in meetings with Mr. Putin, whom he publicly admired, and Viktor Orban, the autocratic prime minister of Hungary.

And close associates of Mr. Trump, in particular Rudolph W. Giuliani, then his personal lawyer, were urging the president to get Mr. Zelensky to open two investigations: one into Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump’s main political opponent, for actions in Ukraine related to his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings; the other based in part on a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election, to help Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump embraced the theory because it undermined the finding of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia had interfered to help him.

But U.S. policy had been on a notably different track. Earlier, in December 2017, under pressure from his national security aides and Congress, Mr. Trump agreed to do what Mr. Obama would not: approve the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

But in mid-2019, the White House froze $391 million in military aid to Ukraine, including the Javelins, to build leverage for Mr. Trump’s demands, congressional investigators later found. The move hobbled Ukraine’s war effort against Russia-backed separatists.

“For it to be held up, they couldn’t understand that,” Mr. Taylor said.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

That set the stage for a fateful July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. “I would like you to do us a favor,” Mr. Trump said. He requested the two investigations.

Mr. Zelensky and his aides were confused. “The rest of the U.S. government was very supportive of Ukraine,” Mr. Taylor said. “But from the top, the president had a different message and set of conditions.”

Mr. Zelensky scheduled a CNN interview for September to announce one or both of the investigations that Mr. Trump had requested to satisfy the American president. But the interview never happened because journalists had begun reporting on the hold on military aid, and lawmakers sympathetic to Ukraine had persisted in asking the White House about the suspended aid. On Sept. 9, three House committees announced investigations into the pressure campaign after reviewing a whistle-blower complaint citing the July call.

The Trump administration released the aid on Sept. 11.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Mr. Zelensky in Kyiv on Jan. 31, 2020, the first cabinet official to do so since the announcement of an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump the previous September. The Senate trial was underway.

Just days earlier, Mr. Pompeo had blown up at an NPR reporter in an interview, asking her to identify Ukraine on an unmarked map and yelling, “Do you think Americans care” about Ukraine? — using an expletive before “Ukraine.”

Yet in Kyiv, Mr. Pompeo stood next to Mr. Zelensky in the presidential palace and said the U.S. commitment to support Ukraine “will not waver.”

But the damage had been done, and Mr. Zelensky was unconvinced that the United States was a trusted ally, Ms. Yovanovitch said in an interview last month.

“Trying to use our national security policy in order to further President Trump’s personal and political agenda was not just wrong, but it was really detrimental to the bilateral relationship,” she said. “It colored how Zelensky handled foreign policy.”

With all the disruption, former U.S. officials said, Mr. Putin no doubt saw weakness in Washington.

Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Biden vs. Putin

Consumed by the pandemic and the economy, Mr. Biden did not prioritize Ukraine at first. But Mr. Blinken visited Kyiv in May 2021 with a message of support.

During a steady rain, Mr. Blinken joined Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, on a walk to the Wall of National Remembrance, where photos of soldiers who had been killed in combat with Russia in the Donbas were displayed outside St. Michael’s monastery.

But he also went to Kyiv with some tough love, determined to press Ukraine to make political and economic changes — a core issue for Mr. Biden when he oversaw relations with the country as vice president.

Just before the visit, Mr. Zelensky’s government had replaced the chief executive of the largest state-owned energy company, whom Western officials had praised for his transparency. The State Department had chastised the move as “just the latest example” of Ukrainian leaders violating practices of good governance. In Kyiv, Mr. Blinken told reporters that he was urging Ukraine to strengthen itself by “building institutions, advancing reforms, combating corruption.”

Such concerns paled in the face of Russia’s growing military threat, which Washington was watching “very, very closely,” Mr. Blinken said. Mr. Putin had begun amassing troops along Ukraine’s borders. By fall, the number approached 100,000.

This past January, Mr. Blinken rushed back to Kyiv for more consultations before a hastily arranged meeting in Geneva with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in a last-ditch attempt to avert war.

But Russia would not be deterred, and high-level contacts between Washington and Moscow have been severely limited ever since.

By contrast, Mr. Blinken speaks frequently to Mr. Kuleba to convey American support that, at least in terms of aid, has been greater than at any time in the three decades since Ukraine declared independence.

“The world is with you,” Mr. Blinken told him on March 5, stepping into Ukraine just a few feet beyond Poland’s border.

“We’re in it with Ukraine — one way or another, short run, the medium run, the long run,” he said.

Mr. Kuleba referred to an “unprecedented, swift reaction” to Russia’s invasion and thanked Mr. Blinken for the support.

“But,” he said, “it has to be continued.”

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Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Prepares for Stepped-Up Assault on the East

Austria’s chancellor visited President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday — the first Western leader to see him in person since the Ukraine invasion — and said he came away feeling not only pessimistic about peace prospects but fearing that Mr. Putin intended to drastically intensify the brutality of the war.

Describing Mr. Putin as dismissive of atrocities in Ukraine, the visiting chancellor, Karl Nehammer, said it was clear that Russian forces were mobilizing for a large-scale assault in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, the next phase of a war now in its seventh week.

“The battle being threatened cannot be underestimated in its violence,” Mr. Nehammer said in a news conference after the 75-minute meeting at Mr. Putin’s residence outside Moscow that the visitor described as blunt and direct.

The Austrian chancellor said he had told the Russian president that as long as people were dying in Ukraine, “the sanctions against Russia will stay in place and will be toughened further.”

The Kremlin, playing down the meeting’s significance in a terse statement, said only that it was “not long by the standards of recent times.”

Even as Mr. Nehammer was visiting, Russian forces were bombarding Ukrainian cities and towns, and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said “tens of thousands are dead” in Mariupol, the besieged southern city that has been the scene of the most intense destruction of the war.

Credit…Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

And Mr. Putin, despite Russia’s military blunders in the war, and for all the Western efforts to ostracize him, still appeared in control of the crisis. He has severely repressed any dissent and benefited from widespread domestic support, continuing revenues from oil and gas sales to Europe, the implicit backing of China and the refusal of much of the world to join sanctions against Russia.

Many commentators in the West had criticized the Austrian chancellor — his country is a member of the European Union but not of NATO — for having visited Moscow at all, seemingly playing into Mr. Putin’s narrative that American-led efforts to isolate Russia would necessarily end in failure.

Mr. Nehammer told reporters afterward that he had tried to confront Mr. Putin with the horrors of war and of the war crimes that Russian troops are accused of having committed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha and elsewhere. He said he also had told Mr. Putin about the destroyed Russian tanks he saw on a recent visit to Ukraine, to make clear the enormous loss of life that Russia was suffering.

Mr. Nehammer said that Mr. Putin had brushed aside the accusations of war crimes as having been staged by Ukraine.

At the end, Mr. Putin told him: “It would be better if it” — the war — “ended soon,” Mr. Nehammer said, but the meaning of those words was unclear, since they could either signal that Mr. Putin was prepared for further peace talks or that he could be readying a quick and brutal assault in the Donbas, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine’s military since 2014.

“We can have no illusions: President Putin has totally adopted the logic of war, and is acting accordingly,” Mr. Nehammer said. “This is why I believe it is so important to permanently confront him with the facts of the war.”

Credit…Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

How much more brutal the war could become was signaled in an interview with Eduard Basurin, a separatist commander, aired on Russian state television. Mr. Basurin said that with Ukrainian forces ensconced in underground fortifications at a steel plant in Mariupol, storming the redoubt did not make sense. Instead, he said, Russian forces needed to first block the exits and then “turn to the chemical troops who will find a way to smoke the moles out of their holes.”

Mr. Putin was silent on Monday but was expected to speak publicly on Tuesday, when he will travel to the Vostochny spaceport in Russia’s far east with President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, his ally, to mark the annual Cosmonauts’ Day.

The Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has increasingly been framed by Mr. Putin as not against that country, but against the West — specifically, the United States, as the supposed patron of Mr. Zelensky’s government and its aspirations to escape Russia’s sphere of influence as a former Soviet republic.

Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said in a Russian television interview that aired on Monday that what the Kremlin calls its “special operation” in Ukraine is aimed at rolling back American influence — which the Russian government characterizes as the root of the world’s ills.

“Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion, and the reckless course toward complete dominance, of the United States,” Mr. Lavrov said.

The United States and European Union have imposed increasingly severe economic sanctions on Russia over the invasion and are sending weapons to Ukraine’s military. But they do not want to get drawn into a war with Russia. And the European Union remains reluctant to ban Russian oil and natural gas, which remain critical to the bloc’s own economic health.

E.U. foreign ministers met on Monday in Luxembourg and the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, said that “nothing is off the table, including sanctions on oil and gas.”

Credit…Pool photo by Chung Sung-Jun

While ministers discussed a possible phaseout of Russian oil, more easily replaceable from other suppliers than gas, the meeting also laid bare the bloc’s divisions. Austria, Hungary and Germany opposed any effort, for now, to restrict Russian gas imports.

Still, European Union leaders were expected to approve another 500 billion euros in funds to repay member states for sending weapons to Ukraine, which would mean a total of 1.5 billion euros so far — nearly equivalent to the $1.7 billion in weapons that the United States has authorized.

Russian troops, having retreated from northern Ukraine after a failed effort last month to reach the capital, Kyiv, have been resupplying and regrouping in Russia and Belarus so they can join the battle in eastern Ukraine. But Western officials said on Monday that effort may still take some time.

Ukrainian officials have been warning since last week that civilians in east Ukraine should flee while they can. Mr. Zelensky warned that tens of thousands of Russian troops were preparing a renewed assault there.

If and when the southern port city of Mariupol finally falls, Russian troops can move north to meet up with Russian troops attempting to move south from Izyum and try to encircle the bulk of Ukraine’s army, which is concentrated further east, said Mathieu Boulègue, an expert on the Russian military at Chatham House, the London research institution.

Credit…Reuters

That is easier said than done, Mr. Boulègue said, as the battered Russian troops await reinforcements. The Ukrainians, he said, were trying to block the Russians and organize a counterattack that would be more complicated than the fighting around Kyiv, which had forced the Russians to retreat.

Given the reports of Russian atrocities at Bucha, Kramatorsk, Mariupol and other cities, negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian governments are on hold.

But few believe that the antagonists are ready for real talks, because Mr. Putin needs to show more military gains and because the Ukrainians believe that they can still repel the Russians, said Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO.

“The Ukrainians think they have an opportunity not just to prevent Russia from gaining more ground in the east but expelling them from there, while Putin needs to find something he can sell as a victory,” Mr. Daalder said. “So diplomacy is not going anywhere.”

If and when talks on a settlement finally occur, Mr. Putin will inevitably be part of them, said François Heisbourg, a French defense expert. Diplomats deal with leaders of governments, no matter how distasteful, he said.

The West also hopes that increasing economic pain will encourage Mr. Putin to scale down the war and end it. Russia is already is “deep recession” and its economy is expected to shrink by 11 percent this year, the World Bank reported.

Credit…Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But the impact is severe on Ukraine, too. The bank forecast that Ukraine’s economy would shrink by about 45 percent this year because of the Russian invasion and the impact of a “deep humanitarian crisis.”

Mr. Putin originally named one goal of the war as the “denazification” of Ukraine, falsely labeling as Nazis those who resist Russian domination. An article on Monday in a Russian state newspaper, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, written by an adviser to the chairman of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, expanded on that concept to define the enemy as “Ukrainian-American neo-Nazism.”

The fight also included a “cold war” against enemies of the state inside Russia, the article said, adding: “The denazification of Ukraine is impossible without a parallel denazification of Russia.”

It was the latest sign that, even as the war in Ukraine rages, Mr. Putin is priming his security apparatus for an ever-widening intolerance for dissent. The crackdown has accelerated in recent weeks, with pro-war Russians turning in teachers and neighbors who speak out against the war.

Last Friday, Russia closed some of the last remaining independent institutions of civil society, including the Carnegie Moscow Center and the Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. It expanded the practice of naming government critics as “foreign agents,” for the first time adding a popular musician to the list: the rapper Ivan Dryomin, 25, who goes by the name Face.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels and Anton Troianovski from Istanbul. Reporting was contributed by Monika Pronczuk in Brussels.

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Live Updates: Russian Pledge to Ease Attack Is Greeted Skeptically by West

ISTANBUL — The first signs of significant progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine emerged on Tuesday, but there was no hint of an imminent end to the suffering, with Russia appearing determined to capture more territory in eastern Ukraine and officials predicting that weeks of further negotiation were needed.

After three hours of talks in Istanbul, Ukrainian officials said their country was ready to declare itself permanently neutral — forsaking the prospect of joining NATO, a key Russian demand — and discuss Russian territorial claims in exchange for “security guarantees” from a group of other nations. An aide to Ukraine’s president called the Russian delegation “constructive,” while Russia said it would “drastically” scale back its military activity around Kyiv to “increase mutual trust.”

Russia’s statement that it will de-escalate the fighting around Kyiv — even as it keeps pounding other parts of Ukraine — may be little more than putting a positive gloss on its military being stymied in its attempts to seize or encircle the capital. In recent days, Ukrainian counteroffensives around the city have forced back Russian forces in some of the fiercest street battles of the war, though they remain within striking distance of Kyiv.

Now, Russian officials said, the goal will be to take more territory in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Russia has installed two separatist statelets that President Vladimir V. Putin recognized last month as independent, but that no other nation has formally acknowledged.

Western officials and security analysts cautioned against taking at face value Russia’s statements about its aims in Kyiv or elsewhere.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

President Biden said he would not draw any conclusions about Russia’s intentions “until I see what their actions are.” Speaking after a White House meeting with the prime minister of Singapore, Mr. Biden added, “We’ll see if they follow through with what they are suggesting.”

“In the meantime,” Mr. Biden said, “we’re going to continue to keep strong the sanctions and will continue to provide the Ukrainian military with the capacity to defend themselves.”

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, on a diplomatic trip to Morocco, told reporters, “There is what Russia says and there’s what Russia does,” adding, “and what Russia is doing is the continued brutalization of Ukraine and its people.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has worked hard to present Mr. Putin with a negotiated way to end the war, accompanied by Ukrainian concessions that would not go so far as to make his country a Russian satellite.

The offer to declare a permanent neutral status, Ukrainian officials in Istanbul said, means it would neither join the NATO alliance nor host foreign troops — a scenario that Mr. Putin used as one of the justifications for his invasion.

Ukrainian officials envision an arrangement in which a diverse group of countries — potentially including the United States, Germany, Turkey and China — would commit, if Ukraine were attacked, to providing it with military assistance and to imposing a no-fly zone if necessary. It was not clear that any of those countries had signed on to such guarantees.

Credit…Nacho Doce/Reuters

“This is probably the best outcome that could’ve been hoped for today,” said Samuel Charap, who studies Russian foreign policy at the RAND Corporation. “The Ukrainians have at least come up with something concrete to address the core Russian demand for Ukraine’s neutrality.”

Ukraine also signaled readiness to consider concessions related to the parts of its territory already occupied by Russia. It proposed a 15-year negotiating process for Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula seized by Russia in 2014, and said it was ready to rule out trying to retake it by force. Questions surrounding the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian officials said, could be discussed at a possible meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelensky.

Russia, for its part, said it was prepared to accelerate planning for such a summit meeting — something that Mr. Zelensky had long sought and that Moscow had resisted, casting Ukraine’s government as a mere puppet of Washington. But now, the Kremlin appears to be increasingly prepared to deal with Mr. Zelensky — in part because Ukraine’s resistance on the battlefield is leaving it no other choice.

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of Russia’s delegation, said that he viewed Ukraine’s proposals as “a constructive step in the search for a compromise.”

“If the treaty is worked out quickly and the required compromise is found, the possibility of making peace will be much closer,” Mr. Medinsky said.

Ukraine and Russia would need at least two more weeks for talks with Russia and potential guarantor countries, Oleksandr Chalyi, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, told reporters after Tuesday’s session. Turkey said it was prepared to host a meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers to flesh out Tuesday’s talks, followed by a possible meeting between the two presidents.

“You have shouldered a historic responsibility,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who hosted Tuesday’s talks at a 19th-century Ottoman palace on the banks of the Bosporus, told the Russian and Ukrainian delegates. “All the world is expecting good news from you.”

Credit…Murat Cetin Muhurdar/Turkish Presidential Press Service, via AFP — Getty Images

Turkey has emerged as a pivotal intermediary in the talks, one of the few countries to maintain close ties to both Russia and Ukraine after the invasion. Though it is a NATO member, Turkey has refused to put in place sanctions against Russia, even as it offers military support to Ukraine. To underscore the latter, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, Mykhailo Podolyak, posted on Twitter on Tuesday a selfie with Haluk Bayraktar, a close associate of Mr. Erdogan and the head of a Turkish company that makes armed drones used by Ukraine.

But despite the positive signals, myriad diplomatic pitfalls remained. For example, Ukraine said that the international security guarantees would not apply to the disputed Donbas, but it is not clear how that area would be defined; the separatists claim far more territory than they controlled before the war.

“The Russian delegation is constructive,” Mr. Podolyak, who is an aide to Mr. Zelensky, said. “This doesn’t mean that the negotiations are easy. They are difficult.”

There was also no reprieve on the ground in Ukraine. On Tuesday morning, a Russian cruise missile strike destroyed part of the main regional government office building in the southern city of Mikolaiv, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 28, Ukrainian officials said.

It was one of many attacks since the Feb. 24 invasion that appeared aimed at disabling government operations; the regional administrator, Vitaly Kim, said his own office was destroyed, but he was not in the building at the time. The Russian advance along the Black Sea coast west of Crimea stalled outside Mikolaiv, in an area that has seen intense combat.

Another Russian missile struck an oil depot on Monday night in the Rivne region in northwestern Ukraine, the second to be destroyed there, according to the regional administrator.

“The scale of the challenges has not diminished,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement. “The Russian army still has significant potential to continue attacks against our state. They still have a lot of equipment and enough people completely deprived of rights whom they can send to the cauldron of war. Therefore, we stay alert and do not reduce our defense efforts.”

The U.S. and British governments confirmed Ukrainian gains in towns around Kyiv — notably Irpin, scene of some of the fiercest street fighting — but advised skepticism about claims that Russia’s stance had changed.

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“Has there been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so? Yeah, we think so, small numbers,” said John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman. But, he added, “We believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas in Ukraine.”

The British Defense Ministry warned that “Russia still poses a significant threat to the city through their strike capability.”

Russia has signaled that it was narrowing its war aims to focus on taking more territory in the Donbas. Sergei K. Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, on Tuesday offered a possible justification for winding down the war effort elsewhere in the country by declaring, in televised remarks in Moscow, that Russia’s initial mission was accomplished.

“In general, the main goals of the first stage of the special operation have been completed,” Mr. Shoigu said. “The combat potential of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been significantly reduced, which makes it possible to focus the main attention and main efforts on achieving the main goal — the liberation of Donbas.”

Russian forces have taken control of a land bridge along Ukraine’s southeastern coast linking Crimea to the Donbas. The lone holdout in that strip is the center of the devastated port city of Mariupol, where, the Institute for the Study of War reported on Tuesday, the Russians are still gaining ground, slowly tightening the noose around the fighters and civilians who remain.

Thousand of civilians have been killed in Mariupol, according to local officials — a claim that cannot be independently verified — and much of the city has been flattened. It remains under “continuous heavy shelling” by Russian forces, the British Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

Credit…Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

In the nearby port of Berdyansk, captured by the Russians, an evacuation convoy took 34 buses full of civilians out of the city, headed into territory held by Ukraine. In anther occupied city in the region, Melitopol, the mayor said the schools chief had been detained after she and local teachers refused orders by the occupying forces to change what was taught and to teach in Russian, not Ukrainian.

The war has cost Ukraine $564.9 billion in damage and lost economic activity — roughly three times its prewar gross domestic product — Yulia Svyrydenko, the economy minister, said in a Facebook post on Monday.

There are as yet no reliable estimates of civilian casualties, and some four million people have fled the country, along with about six million who are internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

Reporting was contributed by Ivan Nechepurenko and Safak Timur from Istanbul; Megan Specia from Krakow, Poland; Michael D. Shear from Washington; and Lara Jakes from Rabat, Morocco.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Russian Forces Regroup, Focusing Efforts on Strategic Targets

WARSAW — They were among the final few words of a carefully crafted speech. But they strayed far from the delicate balance that President Biden had tried to strike during three days of wartime diplomacy in Europe.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr. Biden said Saturday, his cadence slowing for emphasis.

On its face, he appeared to be calling for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to be ousted for his brutal invasion of Ukraine. But Mr. Biden’s aides quickly insisted that the remark — delivered in front of a castle that served for centuries as a home for Polish monarchs — was not intended as an appeal for regime change.

Whatever his intent, the moment underscored the dual challenges Mr. Biden faced during three extraordinary summit meetings in Belgium and an up-close look at the war’s consequences from Poland: keeping America’s allies united against Mr. Putin, while at the same time avoiding an escalation with Russia, which the president has said could lead to World War III.

To achieve his first goal, Mr. Biden spent much of the trip drawing the world’s attention to Mr. Putin’s atrocities since he started the war on Feb. 24. He urged continued action to cripple the Russian economy. He reaffirmed America’s promise to defend its NATO allies against any threat. And he called Mr. Putin “a butcher,” responsible for devastating damage to Ukraine’s cities and its people.

Credit…Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said Mr. Putin’s fate was not in the hands of the American president. “It’s not for Biden to decide,” Mr. Peskov told reporters after Mr. Biden finished speaking. “The president of Russia is elected by the Russians.”

Even as he made it his mission to rally his counterparts, Mr. Biden and his aides were determined to avoid taking actions that Mr. Putin could use as pretexts to start a wider and even more dangerous conflict.

“There is simply no justification or provocation for Russia’s choice of war,” Mr. Biden said earlier in his speech Saturday night. “It’s an example of one of the oldest human impulses — using brute force and disinformation to satisfy a craving for absolute power and control.”

In closed-door discussions at NATO and with the leaders of more than 30 nations, Mr. Biden repeatedly vowed not to send American troops into combat against Russia. And despite desperate pleas for additional help from Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, Mr. Biden remained opposed to using NATO or U.S. fighter jets to secure the country’s airspace from Russian attacks.

Mr. Biden’s trip, which began Wednesday, came at a pivotal moment for his presidency and the world, amid the largest war in Europe since 1945 and a mushrooming humanitarian crisis. Both are testing the resolve and cooperation within the NATO alliance after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump cast doubt on its relevance and pushed a policy of America First isolationism.

For most of his foray abroad, Mr. Biden succeeded in staying on message, according to veteran foreign policy watchers — a reality that made his last-minute comment about Mr. Putin’s future even more striking.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“That message of unity is exactly what Putin needs to hear to convince him to scale back his war aims and end the brutality,” Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s what Ukrainians need to hear to encourage them to keep up the fight. And it’s what Europeans need to hear to steady their nerves and reassure them that the United States is fully committed to their defense.”

And yet, the president ended his trip on Saturday and returned home with few concrete answers about how or when the war will end — and grim uncertainty about the brutal and grinding violence still to come.

A top Russian commander on Friday appeared to signal that Moscow was narrowing its war aims, saying that capturing Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and other major cities was not a priority. Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, the chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in a public statement that the military would instead concentrate “on the main thing: the complete liberation of the Donbas,” the southeastern region that is home to a Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency.

Administration officials say a Russian withdrawal to Donbas would amount to a remarkable failure for Mr. Putin, who has drawn international scorn for his invasion and has plunged the Russian economy into disarray under the weight of global sanctions.

Credit…Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

If Mr. Putin decides to limit the scope of the fight, it would pose new diplomatic challenges for Mr. Biden, who has used the horror of all-out war to rally the world against Russia’s aggression. That could prove more difficult if Mr. Putin decided to move some of his forces back — whether as a real retreat or a strategic feint.

For the moment, however, large portions of Ukraine remain under siege while the country’s forces have mounted a fierce resistance.

On Saturday, even as Mr. Biden prepared to deliver his speech, Russian missiles slammed into Lviv, a city in western Ukraine not far from the Polish border. The missiles hit at or near what is believed to be an oil storage facility, and thick black smoke billowed over the city. At least five people were injured.

Mr. Putin’s thinking remained murky as Mr. Biden boarded Air Force One on Saturday night for the flight back to Washington, complicating his administration’s calculus as it looks for ways to keep the pressure on Russia without going too far.

It all adds up to a tricky task for Mr. Biden, who came into office determined to end America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and now faces the challenge of managing the response to another war.

He has received high marks — even from Republicans — for sending more than $2 billion in military and security aid to Ukraine, bolstering its ability to fight off Russian forces. And he has joined European leaders in imposing crippling sanctions on the Russian economy, putting immense pressure on the Russian leader’s most ardent backers.

During Mr. Biden’s visit to Brussels, NATO announced the redeployment of additional forces to member countries closest to Russia, an effort that Mr. Biden said would deliver a message of resolve to Mr. Putin.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The president also announced $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Poland and other nations that have taken in 3.5 million people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine. Mr. Biden said the United States would open its borders to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

“Visible American leadership is no longer taken for granted in Europe,” said Ian Lesser, the executive director in Brussels for the German Marshall Fund. “In this sense, the president’s trip has made a significant impression.”

But the president also drew criticism from Mr. Zelensky, for refusing to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“Their advantage in the sky is like the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Zelensky told Mr. Biden and the leaders of other NATO countries during their closed-door meeting on Thursday. “And you see the consequences today. How many people were killed, how many peaceful cities were destroyed.”

Mr. Biden faced the limits of European action when he put to his allies the question of curtailing Russia’s ability to profit from the sale of its oil and gas. Europe gets a large percentage of its energy from Russia, and Mr. Biden once again found a deep reluctance to making any decision to cut off that lifeline.

Instead, the president announced a longer-term plan to help wean Europeans off the use of Russian fuel.

Jeremy Bash, who served as a top adviser at both the Pentagon and the C.I.A. under former President Barack Obama, called Mr. Putin’s war “a geopolitical earthquake” and a “once-in-a-generation contest” that has forced Mr. Biden to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing security and diplomatic world.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“President Biden is now a wartime commander in chief waging four wars at once,” Mr. Bash said on Saturday. “An economic war, an information war, likely a cyber war, and an unprecedented indirect military war against Putin. And so far, Putin has been unable to achieve a single one of his objectives.”

Several of the administration’s most ardent supporters in the foreign policy world quickly chided the president for seeming to seek Mr. Putin’s removal. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, called it a “bad lapse in discipline that runs risk of extending the scope and duration of the war.”

While American officials still insist their goal is not regime change in Moscow, even the president’s top national security advisers have made clear they want Mr. Putin to emerge strategically weakened.

“At the end of the day, the Russian people are going to ask the more fundamental question of why this happened and how this happened,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters on Air Force One on Friday, before the president’s speech. “And we believe that, at the end of the day, they will be able to connect the dots.”

Mr. Sullivan added, “These are costs that President Putin has brought on himself and his country and his economy and his defense industrial base because of his completely unjustified and unprovoked decision to go to war in Ukraine.”

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Live Updates: Biden Arrives in Brussels for Summits as U.S. Accuses Russian Forces of War Crimes

KYIV, Ukraine — The Israeli government rejected requests from Ukraine and Estonia in recent years to purchase and use Pegasus — the powerful spyware tool — to hack Russian mobile phone numbers, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

Israel feared that selling the cyberweapon to adversaries of Russia would damage Israel’s relationship with the Kremlin, they said.

Both Ukraine and Estonia had hoped to buy Pegasus to gain access to Russian phones, presumably as part of intelligence operations targeting their increasingly menacing neighbor in the years before Russia carried out its invasion of Ukraine.

But Israel’s Ministry of Defense refused to grant licenses to NSO Group, the company that makes Pegasus, to sell to Estonia and Ukraine if the goal of those nations was to use the weapon against Russia. The decisions came after years of Israel providing licenses to foreign governments that used the spyware as a tool of domestic repression.

Pegasus is a so-called zero-click hacking tool, meaning that it can stealthily and remotely extract everything from a target’s mobile phone, including photos, contacts, messages and video recordings, without the user having to click on a phishing link to give Pegasus remote access. It can also turn the mobile phone into a tracking and secret recording device, allowing the phone to spy on its owner.

In the case of Ukraine, the requests for Pegasus go back several years. Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, the country has increasingly seen itself as a direct target of Russian aggression and espionage. Ukrainian officials have sought Israeli defense equipment to counter the Russian threat, but Israel has imposed a near-total embargo on selling weapons, including Pegasus, to Ukraine.

In the Estonian case, negotiations to purchase Pegasus began in 2018, and Israel at first authorized Estonia to have the system, apparently unaware that Estonia planned to use the system to attack Russian phones. The Estonian government made a large down payment on the $30 million it had pledged for the system.

The following year, however, a senior Russian defense official contacted Israel security agencies to notify them that Russia had learned of Estonia’s plans to use Pegasus against Russia. After a fierce debate among Israeli officials, Israel’s Ministry of Defense blocked Estonia from using the spyware on any Russian mobile numbers worldwide.

Israel’s relationship with Russia has come under close scrutiny since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began several weeks ago, and Ukrainian officials have publicly called out Israel’s government for offering only limited support to Ukraine’s embattled government and bowing to Russian pressure.

During a virtual speech to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine criticized Israel for not providing his country with the Iron Dome antimissile system and other defensive weapons, and for not joining other Western nations in imposing strict economic sanctions on Russia.

Invoking the Holocaust, Mr. Zelensky said that Russia’s war was aimed at destroying the Ukrainian people just as the Nazis had wanted destruction for the Jewish people. Mr. Zelensky, who is Jewish, said “mediation can be between states, but not between good and evil.”

The New York Times reported last month that Israeli officials in August rejected a request by a Ukrainian delegation to purchase Pegasus, at a time when Russian troops were massing at the Ukrainian border. On Wednesday morning, The Washington Post and The Guardian, part of a consortium of news organizations called The Pegasus Project, reported that these discussions dated back to 2019, and first reported that Israel had blocked Estonia’s efforts to obtain Pegasus.

A senior Ukrainian official familiar with attempts to acquire the Pegasus system said that Ukrainian intelligence officials were disappointed when Israel declined to allow Ukraine to purchase the system, which could have proved critical for monitoring Russian military programs and assessing the country’s foreign policy goals.

The official said Ukraine’s view was that Israel, in making decisions about licensing Pegasus, gave more weight to a government’s relationship with the Kremlin than its human rights record.

Representatives of the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment. In a statement, NSO said the company “can’t refer to alleged clients and won’t refer to hearsay and political innuendo.”

Both Ukraine and Estonia were once part of the Soviet Union, and since then have had to live in the long shadow of Russia’s military. Estonia is a member of NATO.

Russia plays a powerful role throughout the Middle East, particularly in Syria, and Israel is wary of crossing Moscow on critical security issues. In particular, Russia has generally allowed Israel to strike Iranian and Lebanese targets inside Syria — raids the Israeli military sees as essential to stemming the flow of arms that Iran sends to proxy forces stationed close to Israel’s northern border.

Israel’s government has long seen Pegasus as a critical tool for its foreign policy. A New York Times Magazine article this year revealed how, for more than a decade, Israel has made strategic decisions about which countries it allows to obtain licenses for Pegasus, and which countries to withhold them from.

Israel’s government has authorized Pegasus to be purchased by authoritarian governments, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that have used the weapon to spy on dissidents, human rights activists and journalists in those countries. Democratically elected leaders in India, Hungary, Mexico, Panama and other countries also abused Pegasus to spy on their political opponents.

Israel has used the tool as a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations, most notably in the secret talks that led to the so-called Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several of its historic Arab adversaries.

“Policy decisions regarding export controls, take into account security and strategic considerations, which include adherence to international arrangements,” the Israeli defense ministry said in a statement in response to questions from The Times. “As a matter of policy, the State of Israel approves the export of cyber products exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter terrorism, under end use/end user declarations provided by the acquiring government.”

Since NSO first sold Pegasus to the government of Mexico more than a decade ago, the spyware has been used by dozens of countries to track criminals, terrorists and drug traffickers. But the abuse of the tool has also been extensive, from Saudi Arabia’s use of Pegasus as part of a brutal crackdown on dissents inside the kingdom, to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary authorizing his intelligence and law enforcement services to deploy the spyware against his political opponents.

Last November, the Biden administration put NSO and another Israeli cyberfirm on a “blacklist” of firms that are barred from doing business with American companies. The Commerce Department said the companies’ tools “have enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent.”

Ronen Bergman reported from Kyiv, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Continues Bombardment, but Its Forces Have Shrunk, Pentagon Says

WASHINGTON — When the Cold War ended, governments and companies believed that stronger global economic ties would lead to greater stability. But the Ukraine war and the pandemic are pushing the world in the opposite direction and upending those ideas.

Important parts of the integrated economy are unwinding. American and European officials are now using sanctions to sever major parts of the Russian economy — the 11th largest in the world — from global commerce, and hundreds of Western companies have halted operations in Russia on their own. Amid the pandemic, companies are reorganizing how they obtain their goods because of soaring costs and unpredictable delays in global supply chains.

Western officials and executives are also rethinking how they do business with China, the world’s second-largest economy, as geopolitical tensions and the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses and use of advanced technology to reinforce autocratic control make corporate dealings more fraught.

The moves reverse core tenets of post-Cold War economic and foreign policies forged by the United States and its allies that were even adopted by rivals like Russia and China.

“What we’re headed toward is a more divided world economically that will mirror what is clearly a more divided world politically,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “I don’t think economic integration survives a period of political disintegration.”

“Does globalization and economic interdependence reduce conflict?” he added. “I think the answer is yes, until it doesn’t.”

Opposition to globalization gained momentum with the Trump administration’s trade policies and “America First” drive, and as the progressive left became more powerful. But the pandemic and President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have brought into sharp relief the uncertainty of the existing economic order.

President Biden warned President Xi Jinping of China on Friday that there would be “consequences” if Beijing gave material aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, an implicit threat of sanctions. China has criticized sanctions on Russia, and Le Yucheng, the vice foreign minister, said in a speech on Saturday that “globalization should not be weaponized.” Yet China increasingly has imposed economic punishments — Lithuania, Norway, Australia, Japan and South Korea have been among the targets.

The result of all the disruptions may well be a fracturing of the world into economic blocs, as countries and companies gravitate to ideological corners with distinct markets and pools of labor, as they did in much of the 20th century.

Mr. Biden already frames his foreign policy in ideological terms, as a mission of unifying democracies against autocracies. Mr. Biden also says he is enacting a foreign policy for middle-class Americans, and central to that is getting companies to move critical supply chains and manufacturing out of China.

The goal is given urgency by the hobbling of those global links over two years of the pandemic, which has brought about a realization among the world’s most powerful companies that they need to focus on not just efficiency and cost, but also resiliency. This month, lockdowns China imposed to contain Covid-19 outbreaks have once again threatened to stall global supply chains.

Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

The economic impact of such a change is highly uncertain. The emergence of new economic blocs could accelerate a massive reorganization in financial flows and supply chains, potentially slowing growth, leading to some shortages and raising prices for consumers in the short term. But the longer-term effects on global growth, worker wages and supplies of goods are harder to assess.

The war has set in motion “deglobalization forces that could have profound and unpredictable effects,” said Laurence Boone, the chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For decades, executives have pushed for globalization to expand their markets and to exploit cheap labor and lax environmental standards. China especially has benefited from this, while Russia profits from its exports of minerals and energy. They tap into enormous economies: The Group of 7 industrialized nations make up more than 50 percent of the global economy, while China and Russia together account for about 20 percent.

Trade and business ties between the United States and China are still robust, despite steadily worsening relations. But with the new Western sanctions on Russia, many nations that are not staunch partners of America are now more aware of the perils of being economically tied to the United States and its allies.

If Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin organize their own economic coalition, they could bring in other nations seeking to shield themselves from Western sanctions — a tool that all recent U.S. presidents have used.

“Your interdependence can be weaponized against you,” said Dani Rodrik, a professor of international political economy at Harvard Kennedy School. “That’s a lesson that I imagine many countries are beginning to internalize.”

The Ukraine war, he added, has “probably put a nail in the coffin of hyperglobalization.”

China and, increasingly, Russia have taken steps to wall off their societies, including erecting strict censorship mechanisms on their internet networks, which have cut off their citizens from foreign perspectives and some commerce. China is on a drive to make critical industries self-sufficient, including for technologies like semiconductors.

And China has been in talks with Saudi Arabia to pay for some oil purchases in China’s currency, the renminbi, The Wall Street Journal reported; Russia was in similar discussions with India. The efforts show a desire by those governments to move away from dollar-based transactions, a foundation of American global economic power.

For decades, prominent U.S. officials and strategists asserted that a globalized economy was a pillar of what they call the rules-based international order, and that trade and financial ties would prevent major powers from going to war. The United States helped usher China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 in a bid to bring its economic behavior — and, some officials hoped, its political system — more in line with the West. Russia joined the organization in 2012.

But Mr. Putin’s war and China’s recent aggressive actions in Asia have challenged those notions.

“The whole idea of the liberal international order was that economic interdependence would prevent conflict of this kind,” said Alina Polyakova, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, a research group in Washington. “If you tie yourselves to each other, which was the European model after the Second World War, the disincentives would be so painful if you went to war that no one in their right mind would do it. Well, we’ve seen now that has proven to be false.”

“Putin’s actions have shown us that might have been the world we’ve been living in, but that’s not the world he or China have been living in,” she said.

The United States and its partners have blocked Russia from much of the international financial system by banning transactions with the Russian central bank. They have also cut Russia off from the global bank messaging system called SWIFT, frozen the assets of Russian leaders and oligarchs, and banned the export from the United States and other nations of advanced technology to Russia. Russia has answered with its own export bans on food, cars and timber.

The penalties can lead to odd decouplings: British and European sanctions on Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch who owns the Chelsea soccer team in Britain, prevent the club from selling tickets or merchandise.

Credit…Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

About 400 companies have chosen to suspend or withdraw operations from Russia, including iconic brands of global consumerism such as Apple, Ikea and Rolex.

While many countries remain dependent on Russian energy exports, governments are strategizing how to wean themselves. Washington and London have announced plans to end imports of Russian oil.

The outstanding question is whether any of the U.S.-led penalties would one day be extended to China, which is a far bigger and more integral part of the global economy than Russia.

Even outside the Ukraine war, Mr. Biden has continued many Trump administration policies aimed at delinking parts of the American economy from that of China and punishing Beijing for its commercial practices.

Officials have kept the tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump, which covered about two-thirds of Chinese imports. The Treasury Department has continued to impose investment bans on Chinese companies with ties to the country’s military. And in June, a law will go into effect in the United States barring many goods made in whole or in part in the region of Xinjiang.

Despite all that, demand for Chinese-made goods has surged through the pandemic, as Americans splurge on online purchases. The overall U.S. trade deficit soared to record levels last year, pushed up by a widening deficit with China, and foreign investments into China actually accelerated last year.

Some economists have called for more global integration, not less. Speaking at a virtual conference on Monday, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization, urged a move toward “re-globalization,” saying, “Deeper, more diversified international markets remain our best bet for supply resilience.

But those economic ties will be further strained if U.S.-China relations worsen, and especially if China gives substantial aid to Russia.

Besides recent warnings to China from Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said her agency would ban the sale of critical American technology to Chinese companies if China tried to supply forbidden technology to Russia.

In the meantime, the uncertainty has left the U.S.-China relationship in flux. While many major Chinese banks and private companies have suspended their interactions with Russia to comply with sanctions, foreign asset managers appear to have also begun moving their money out of China in recent weeks, possibly in anticipation of sanctions.

Mary Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said she did not expect China to “throw all in” with Russia, but that the war could still strain economic ties by worsening U.S.-China relations.

“Right now, there is great uncertainty as to how the U.S. and China will respond to the challenges posed by Russia’s increasingly urgent need for assistance,” she said. “That policy uncertainty is another push to multinationals who were already rethinking supply chains.”

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