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Tags: kyiv | nato | poland

Biden Misses Chance to Elucidate Strategy on E. Europe

biden kyiv white house warsaw poland

U.S. President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Feb. 22, 2023. - Biden returned to the White House following a surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, and a three day trip to Warsaw, Poland. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images) 

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz By Thursday, 02 March 2023 11:59 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

President Joe Biden popped up in Kiyv and visited Warsaw recently to reaffirm his staunch support of Ukraine in its defensive war against Russia. The trip was largely symbolic, denoting continuity of America’s commitment to arming the Ukrainians.

The U.S. warned Russia about our chief executive’s foray on a train to Kiyv. Thus, there was essentially no danger to the U.S. president, but a great photo opportunity.

Unfortunately, Biden has once again missed an opportunity to elucidate a grand strategy regarding the war in eastern Europe. Instead, we were treated to hart-warming declarations:

"I can proudly say that our support for Ukraine remains unwavering," said Biden. That’s nice.

However, the American President failed to tell us how he was going to achieve victory and peace. Instead, Biden announced additional funds, including military assistance for Ukraine.

The White House’s strategic plan seems to consist of supplying weapons to the Ukrainians.

This scenario is not about strategic ambiguity, where the participants in a conflict eschew expressing their goals to keep the opponent guessing.

It is simply a continuation of the Pentagon’s promise from almost a year ago to enable the Ukrainians to kill as many Russians as possible.

Is this sustainable in a long run?

Does pouring money into the Ukrainian war substitute for strategy?

So far this has elicited this sentiment: "The Americans will fight to the last Ukrainian."

It sounds harsh and unconscionable but it has so far served the White House as its "grand" strategy. Partly because of that ambiguity prevails also at home and the American people’s attitude on helping Ukraine has become increasingly polarized.

Naturally, the Ukrainians have every right to resist. Of course, it is right to equip them to fend off the Muscovites.

But how long will it last? Right now we have a stalemate, or even “a war of attrition on two fronts,” according to National Review.

Are we going to settle for a Ukrainian meat grinder churning out its gruesome harvest indefinitely?

Make no mistake. The Russians will keep coming. As always, according to Oxford Professor Norman Davies, the by-word of their leaders has been: “U nas mnogo ludiey” – “We have a lot of people.”

Even if Moscow loses now, it will be back: in five or ten years. It is unlikely it will ever let Ukraine go. As late Zbigniew Brzezinski remarked once, “It cannot be stressed enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire.”

Save a miracle, like a collapse at the Kremlin, or an implosion of the Russian Federation into regions — or its degeneration into a civil war — the most likely scenario in Ukraine is a continuous unfrozen conflict akin to a stalemate of the First World War.

Or, it may be a frozen conflict that will flare up periodically.

What’s the alternative to such a stalemate? Besides kicking Vladimir Putin, Biden did not tell us anything about that in Warsaw, either.

Of course, he sweet talked the Poles: "The truth of the matter is: The United States needs Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs the United States…

"And so, it’s the single-most consequential alliance, and I would argue maybe the most consequential alliance in history, that — not just modern history, but in history."

The last part was perhaps hyperbolic.

And, as at least some observers noted in Poland, Biden’s sweet words did not come with any promises of assistance. The Poles got no deals on their massive purchases of American weapons; no discounts whatsoever on Westinghouse’s construction of a nuclear plant in Poland.

Some Polish pundits are turning sour on the U.S. because of various perceived slights.

And so is the Polish public as far as the war, and, in particular, the Ukrainian refugees, who get preferential tax breaks, housing, and social assistance.

Finally, there is no American diplomatic help to force the European Union to release the funds due to Poland, so the Poles could cover the costs of arming Ukraine and assisting Ukrainian war refugees.

About nine million of them crossed into Poland, and almost two million have settled there more or less permanently.

Biden could have pressured Brussels on behalf of Warsaw: at no cost to the US taxpayer. Saving American money is not in his blood.

At least so far he has not sent our troops to Ukraine.

No strategy leads to nowhere. That much is clear.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington, D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between the Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.

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Joe Biden has failed to tell us how he was going to achieve victory and peace. Instead, Biden announced additional funds, including military assistance for Ukraine.
kyiv, nato, poland
Thursday, 02 March 2023 11:59 AM
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