December 6, 2023

Arms to Ukraine

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Slow-walking arms to Ukraine
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — From the start of the Russo-Ukraine War, the Biden administration and NATO have slow-walked assistance to Ukraine. Initially, it was assumed Russia would quickly prevail, so the slow walking made some sense. But that outcome was quickly dispelled by Ukrainian competence and Russian incompetence. Still, the slow walking continued.
          Washington vetoed the plan to give NATO planes to Ukraine. Washington did not send HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) batteries to Ukraine until four months after the war began, and then only with 57.2-mile rockets instead of 103-mile rockets for fear Ukraine would fire into Russian territory. This highly accurate system proved to be the weapon most dreaded by the Russians, and Ukraine requested 100 of them, but by mid-October only 20 had been received with another 18 promised by March at the earliest. This has been slow-walking in microcosm.
          Meanwhile, anti-missile Patriot systems came into play, with the New York Times reporting on December 10: “Poland initially accepted the offer of the Patriots [from Germany], then rejected it. They then insisted that the [Patriot] batteries be put in Ukraine, a nonstarter for NATO, since the missile systems would be operated by NATO personnel.”
          Then, three days later the Biden administration announced it is shipping Patriots to Ukraine, clearly without U.S. or NATO personnel to operate them. This comes more than nine months after the Russian invasion, and only after Russian missiles have played havoc with Ukraine’s electrical grid and other infrastructure.
          Germany, behind only the U.S. and UK in supplying arms to Ukraine, is finally agreeing to send 80 Leopard-2 tanks — 10 months after the war began.
          Apparently, the only rationale for all this slow-walking is a fear of escalation, but this is a rationalizing word because (a) Russia is not about to threaten any NATO country even if it could, which it cannot when it is weighed down in Ukraine, and (b) Russia for all the bluster is not going to resort to nuclear weapons because the concept of MAD (mutually assured destruction) remains valid. In short, there is no threat of escalation, and it is time to take the restraints off Ukraine and allow that nation to properly defend itself.
          Russian President Vladimir Putin was outraged when Ukraine struck the Kerch Strait Bridge connecting Russia and Crimea. He was outraged when Ukrainian drones attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. He is outraged that the U.S. and NATO are supplying armaments to Ukraine. He is outraged that Ukraine has the temerity to defend itself. Such open hypocrisy is inexplicably taken seriously only by the nations helping Ukraine, and the sooner such gullibility ceases and arms flows commence unabated the war will be over.
          After all, what is Putin going to do if Ukrainian missiles target Russia’s electrical grid and other critical targets? It is the old story of timid people cautioning a victim to refrain from striking back too hard against an assailing bully for fear it will make the bully really angry. That sophisticated leaders from sophisticated nations could allow themselves to fall prey to such irrational foolishness is indefensible. It is time to give Ukraine what it needs. To do less will not change the outcome. It will only increase the duration, the suffering, and the destruction.
          See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2022 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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