Q: "How do you see the role of the US and a chance of a nuclear escalation?"
"Could there have been a better strategy to deal with the bully? With the money the US is pouring in, when is it fair to call it a war between the US and Russia? The grave fear is of course that Putin will not back down while he still has the means to fight, and as we all know those means include nuclear weapons."
The role of US, as I see it, is of a leader of the liberal world in both hard and soft power. It is like a bigger brother if you wish for smaller countries aspiring liberal values but facing oppression by less fair neighbours. You may dislike some of his doings, see him arrogant and selfish very often, but he still helps you when you are bullied by bigger and numerous bandits.
USA made its mistakes though and bears part of the fault for what has happened:
- in 1991 J. Bush Sr. gave his 'Chicken Kyiv speech' encouraging Ukrainians not to break up with Muscovites. USA wanted very much to keep Moscow state united and feared that breakup might lead to the region's instability
- Clinton's 'Russia first' policy turned a blind eye on the Kremlin not conducting any liberal reforms and continuing violence inside and outside state's borders
- Ukraine left Soviet Union being the 3rd largest nuclear power in the world but agreed to promoted by US give-up on nuclear weapon in an exchange of financial investments and general commercial collaboration, with sovereignty and territorial integrity guarantees signed by USA, UK and Russia, later signed additionally by France and China - 'Budapest memorandum'.
- invasion of Georgia by Russia did not bring any adequate reaction of the West, with USA even warming in relations with russia ('New Start' treaty, etc.) In the aftermath.
- while Obama introduced some sanctions on Moscow for 2014 annexation of Crimea, it looked pretty much as business as usual of the West with Russia, which only encouraged Putin
- Trump tried to use Ukrainian president in faking case against its political opponent, intimidating to stop any military sales and aids to Ukraine
- Ukrainians, grateful to the president Biden for all the aid provided, would certainly appreciate it to be more decisive and swift rather than granular...
I believe above is some partial list of how US has made things worse for Ukraine than those could be. Washington had been betting on the wrong horse and once realised it, was too slow to change it.
If the reaction of USA and the West on the annexation of Crimea in 2014, invasion of Georgia in 2008, Chechnya and other meddling were stronger and more decisive, that would certainly dissuade Moscow from further escalations. Kremlin understand only strength - it dared not start with smaller Baltic states - NATO members, it won't attempt Finland now neither. But anything smaller than it once controlled geographically russians consider to be a humiliation - the more nations drift away the more irritated Muscovy becomes. The better neighbours live the bigger threat it is for the regime's authority within own society. And only a common grand threat and enemy can strengthen elites' position.
When is it fair to call war between US and Russia? - when (and IF) actual soldiers will fight, of course. First I wanted to elaborate on examples of the Cold War hot wars in the 3rd World, but feel it is even easier than that - When it was fair to call a war between Roosvelt and Hitler? It seems to me that in 1939 the US aided UK - financially and with military equipment. It then helped Soviet Union enormously long before the Pearl Harbour and Hitler's declaration of the war on the United States. Many countries sell and send weapons to many others, even train troops - it does not practically mean they fight there. Does New Zealand fight Russia as well? - it trains Ukrainian troops, it sends aid - both humanitarian and military (even though it does not have much).
Ukraine resisted and fought back for its country, freedom, lives and choice - that was the very first and core event. Even Washington did not believe at first that Kyiv will resist and stand more than a week. All the military aid came after. And do not forget other countries. Maybe US is giving more in an absolute USD value, but Baltic countries give much more in a percentage of their own GDP and budget, while Poland is giving everything it can ahead of everyone. Does it mean Russia is fighting Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and a few dozens of other countries by this logic? - no. Ukrainians do - blood and will come first, aid comes after. Europe, NATO, US, but especially neighboring countries clearly understand that if Ukraine fell, any of them would be the next against even stronger enemy: Ukrainian industry, agriculture and human resources have always been a solid power - it would improve Russia's capabilities in the same way as Czech military sector aided Hitler.
Putin won't back down. Muscovy won't back down. As Reich did not. The only cure is an unconditional defeat. As any ceasefire will play at Kremlin's advantage - check Chechnya. Agreement signed with Russians is not worth a paper it is written on. That is a famous and practically absolutely true aphorism while its credits are disputed.
There are many opinions about nuclear threats. I stand with those who are highlighting primarily its blackmail function towards countries around the world who is not even losing lives in this war - to make them hesitant in help. Moscow has been undoubtfully weakened by this failed attack - it is now clearly junior to Beijing. There is an opinion that China won't approve the use of nuclear weapon by Russia. That all stands only till China itself attack somebody.
More substantial essay - in our Blog: "Russia’s wars on Georgia and Ukraine"