Ukraine is launching a massive offensive against Russia. The country has been invaded by Russian forces, and Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko wants to prevent further damage from the Kremlin-backed militias in Eastern Ukraine.
Russia has been sending troops and weapons to the Ukraine, which is a violation of international law. The United States has sent aircraft carriers to the region in order to show Russia that its actions are not going unnoticed.
On the outskirts of Kyiv on March 31, Ukrainian troops pass on top of armored vehicles near to a wrecked Russian tank.
Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press photo
The script has shifted as Russia’s assault on Ukraine enters its sixth week. Russia’s progress has slowed, and Ukraine now wants to go on the offensive to reclaim the ground that Russian soldiers have gained. However, the nation will need assistance from the United States and NATO to do this, and it seems that the Biden Administration will be hesitant to deliver those weapons and information.
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield claimed eight times during her Wednesday press conference that Vladimir Putin’s invasion was a “strategic miscalculation,” “wrong,” or “error.” That is the White House narrative, implying that the West is winning the war against Russia.
But it seems like a premature victory statement. His soldiers continue to attack Ukrainian cities and have seized more land. Mr. Putin may yet gain a strategic edge in the medium- to long-term if he can reach an agreement that gives Russia control of a substantial portion of Ukraine.
Russia’s demands for peace conditions in discussions signal that such a consolidation in Ukraine’s east, as well as a long-term occupation, are now Russia’s objectives. He’ll have gained the long-awaited “land bridge” connecting Crimea and Donbas. Mr. Putin might declare victory, re-arm for a few years, continue his assassination attempt on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and generally cause political, cyber, and other problems for a pro-Western Ukrainian administration.
That is why Mr. Zelensky now want to take the initiative. The more area his soldiers can reclaim, the better his country’s negotiating position will be. Mr. Putin’s actions in Georgia in 2008 and eastern Ukraine in 2014-15 has shown that once his soldiers seize an area, they don’t give it up. The consequence is another another “frozen war,” with the nation he has invaded weaker and more prone to Russian mayhem than before.
To go on attack, the Ukrainians need stronger weaponry, such as tanks and fighter planes like the MiG-29s that Poland wants to deliver under NATO’s political cover. It also need information on Russian force movements and weaknesses in the east. Now is the moment to assist Ukraine in taking the initiative. Demoralized Russian soldiers, as well as defectors who have taken equipment with them, are becoming increasingly common.
Administration officials, though, continued to reject bipartisan demand to deploy heavier weapons at a secret briefing on Capitol Hill this week. The argument is that they won’t have much of an impact on the fight, but the Ukrainians know otherwise. With troops equipped with hand-held Javelin antitank missiles, it’s considerably more difficult to dislodge dug-in tank battalions than it is with tanks or aircraft that can attack from above.
Ukraine’s advocates on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon are concerned that the Biden Administration does not want Ukraine to take offensive action. It wants to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. France and Germany, the NATO coalition’s doves, are in a similar situation. They are concerned that if Russia suffers any more casualties, Mr. Putin would escalate again, perhaps in more hazardous ways, dragging NATO into the conflict. Mr. Putin is, in a way, dictating the boundaries of US help to Ukraine with his threats.
Even if there is a cease-fire or a frozen war, the US and at least some NATO members will be unable to ignore Ukraine. Mr. Zelensky will have to persuade the Ukrainian people to accept any accord, which will be difficult after hundreds of innocent people have been slain. Ukrainians will seek security assurances from the West, lest they become exposed to future Russian strikes.
A mutual-defense agreement, similar to the one the US has with Australia and Japan in the Pacific, is one option worth considering. After everything that Ukraine has given up, Mr. Zelensky will not accept Mr. Putin’s vows of non-aggression, and President Biden should not rely on him to do so.
The Biden Administration has been delayed and hesitant to provide Ukraine with the weaponry and intelligence assistance it needs throughout the fight. The public and Capitol Hill pressure has compelled it to act. Now, with Russia on the defensive, is the moment to keep the pressure on for Ukraine and NATO to accomplish a strategic success.
NATO can’t contain Putin in Ukraine, says Wonder Land. For years, he and other Western foes have been attempting to undermine and replace us. Getty Images/KCNA via KNS/AFP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP/AP Mark Kelly’s composite
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