The choice Biden and the world face in Ukraine


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President Joe Biden likes to say “America is back,” boasting that with him in charge, we can reclaim our rightful place as the leader of the free world.

But it’s time he started acting like that, instead of just making speeches about it. Don’t just talk about the brave Ukrainian people. Give them the necessary weapons to defend themselves, and do it quickly.

UKRAINE RELEASES VIDEO OF DRONE DOWN IN RUSSIA

FILE PHOTO: US President Joe Biden announces the release of 1 million barrels of oil a day for the next six months from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as part of the administration’s efforts to make lower gasoline prices, during remarks in the South Court of the Eisenhower Auditorium Executive Office Building of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 31, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
(Reuters)

Don’t just rant about how evil Russian President Vladimir Putin is and mumble about regime change. Take action to cut off Putin’s energy revenue. Russia earns more than $1 billion every day from natural gas and oil exports. European countries are expected to pay Russia almost half a trillion dollars in 2022 to buy Russian energy. They are literally funding Putin’s war machine. If Biden suspended his war on fossil fuels to allow US natural gas production and exports to Europe, Putin’s income would plummet.

If the reports that Russia is using chemical weapons are confirmed, that is a game-changer. This means that Putin will not stop fighting because of international pressure, nor will he hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction, and he is not troubled by the commission of crimes of war against civilian populations.

There are only two ways to stop Putin: militarily by defeating him on the battlefield; and economically by reducing his income to the point where he can no longer afford to continue fighting.

If we don’t supply Ukraine with weapons and refuse to cut off Putin’s income, Ukraine’s fate is sealed. Russia will bleed him to death.

But that won’t be the end. The war in Ukraine has ramifications far beyond Ukraine’s borders. A Russian “victory” could deal a fatal blow to the whole concept of democracy and the liberal world order. We would fall back into a world where might is good and bullies prevail.

The West is caught in a dilemma. Everyone wants Ukraine to win, but at no significant cost or risk to themselves. Naturally, no member of NATO, including the United States, wants its own forces to join the fight and risk starting another world war. President Biden fears that supplying Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself could trigger a Russian attack on NATO, or even a Russian escalation towards weapons of mass destruction.

If Russia’s nuclear blackmail succeeds, all budding nuclear powers will understand that once they cross the threshold, they can get away with anything. No country is willing to gamble with a nuclear-weapon state.

At the same time, European nations dependent on Russian energy for everything from fuel oil to power generation are reluctant to impose sanctions on oil and natural gas. While such sanctions could reduce Russian revenues, European leaders fear that a sudden cut in Russian energy could devastate their own economies.

So the war continues.

In this final phase of the war, Russian forces withdrew from kyiv and western Ukraine, leaving death and destruction in their wake. They are now focusing on eastern and southern Ukraine. Putin has appointed a new general in charge of warfare, a man whose combat specialty is not conquering countries, but destroying civilizations. If Putin’s army cannot defeat the Ukrainian army, he will use it to commit genocide, raze the country and force its surrender, as it did fifteen years ago with Chechnya and more recently with the Syria.

Putin’s war is also on a deadline. On May 9, people across Russia will celebrate their World War II victory over the Nazis. Ever since Putin presented the whole operation in Ukraine as a noble effort to rid Ukraine of its Nazi rulers, he has painted himself into a corner. He is to show progress in defeating the Ukrainian “Nazis” on the anniversary of the defeat of the German Nazis. (Never mind that President Zelenskyy is Jewish and the grandson of Holocaust survivors.)

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 8, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 8, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Some in the Biden administration, possibly President Biden himself, are hoping that if things get bad enough in Russia, with sanctions leading to increased economic hardship added to rising war casualties, Putin will be kicked out. . Maybe, but it’s unlikely to happen in time to save Ukraine. Indeed, Putin’s popularity has actually increased since the invasion.

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In the days and weeks ahead, President Biden and other Western leaders must make a choice. Will they give Ukraine the weapons it needs to defend itself? Even so, Ukraine might not win, but at least they would have a fighting chance. Is Biden ready to suspend his holy war on fossil fuels and let US energy companies ramp up production and exports? If so, we could be helping Europe wean itself off Russian energy, while depriving Russia of windfall profits.

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If President Biden does neither, the stark reality is that Putin is likely to destroy Ukraine. And, in a few years, when the Russian bear is hungry again, he will want more.

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