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Tags: ukraine | biden administration | russian invasion

Biden Needs Clear Strategy on Arming Ukraine

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Marek Jan Chodakiewicz By Thursday, 05 May 2022 08:25 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Over 70% of Americans support supplying weapons to Ukraine. The Biden administration has just earmarked $800 million in military aid to Kiyv, but it has so far failed to elucidate a long-term strategy as far as the conflict. The White House’s Ukrainian policy seems to be entirely reactive.

Should we arm the Ukrainian fighters or not? If so, then to what extent? Perhaps we should limit ourselves to providing defensive weapons only. But what if they use defensive weapons offensively? Finally, we are sending howitzers to Ukraine.

Similar musings occurred in western European capitals. The Dutch and the British have so far helped the most, the latter even supplying Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. On the other hand, the Germans and the French had been selling weapons to the Russians, while refusing to assist the Ukrainians.

Germany was perhaps the most reluctant to help. But now, finally, Berlin has reversed itself. It is sending 50 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine. The Gepard can also serve as an anti-tank weapon.

There is a problem, however. The Germans claim they have no ammunition to send. Partly it is a problem of low stock on hand and insufficient production capacity in Germany itself. Partly it is a function of the Swiss factor: Since the bulk of ammunition originates in Switzerland, the authorities there refuse permission for releasing the ammunition to Ukraine for that would violate their neutrality.

One cannot help but notice that the Germans are still wedded to their neo-Bismarkian policy vis-à-vis the Russians, which was pioneered by former chancellor Angela Merkel. Romancing Moscow and remaining hooked up on Russian energy seem to be Germany’s strategic objectives. Perhaps Berlin thinks that may be the surest way to trigger a U.S. exit from Europe.

However, presently the German government claims that the Merkelian approach has been discarded and the Germans are back to their old reliable selves from the Cold War days. They will fight the Russians to the last Ukrainian, as a morbid joke would have it.

For NATO’s Eastern Flank, the former captive nations of the now defunct Soviet Bloc, it is no laughing matter. They have been supporting Ukraine from the get-go.

The Baltics have sent weapons, although Berlin has tried to dissuade them, for instance by refusing permission for arms transfers for military hardware originating in Germany. Undeterred, Estonia has sent Soviet-era missiles to Ukraine, Lithuania trains Ukrainian troops on its soil, and Latvia turned a blind eye to its citizens volunteering to fight for Kiyv.

The Czechs have dispatched their old Soviet tanks to the Ukrainians. The Slovaks handed over old Soviet hardware. And so did Rumania.

Along with the Poles, these nations pledged to give up their MiG fighter planes to the Ukrainians, a plan that the Biden administration scuttled a few weeks ago.

The Poles have contributed $1.6 billion USD in military and other aid so far, in addition to billions in assistance to 2.6 million Ukrainian refugees, about 95% of them women and children, who streamed into the Polish lands because of the war, while the European Union has refused to help.

Bulgaria says it won’t supply any weapons to Ukraine. Hungary has announced a policy of strict neutrality in the conflict but at least Budapest has joined in imposing some sanctions on Moscow. Serbia absolutely refused to sanction Russia, making it a total regional outlier in the Intermarium, the lands between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic seas.

Everyone awaits America’s leadership. What will Biden do? So far his administration’s willingness to supply Ukraine with limited weapons has sent mixed signals.

First, it feeds into the Kremlin’s narrative that arming the Ukrainians prolongs Kiyv’s agony needlessly. Indeed, insufficient weapons will not lead to the Ukrainian victory.

Second, it suggests that the White House is interested in making the Russians pay a steep price in blood for upsetting the international order but not necessarily in saving Ukraine, thus making the conflict a “proxy war.”

Third, it has everyone worried about the escalation of the war, in particular because Putin threatens the use of nuclear weapons in case of Western intervention and escalation.

Biden will have to learn how to tread carefully lest the situation spirals into the Third World War. Arm the Ukrainians to the teeth, cheer them on, send volunteers, but keep the U.S. and NATO out of combat in Ukraine.

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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Over 70% of Americans support supplying weapons to Ukraine. The Biden administration has just earmarked $800 million in military aid to Kiyv, but it has so far failed to elucidate a long-term strategy as far as the conflict.
ukraine, biden administration, russian invasion
Thursday, 05 May 2022 08:25 AM
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