May 2 – Anxious to keep the initiative in a so-called standoff with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin really pushed his luck this spring by faking a massive invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Putin has assembled more than 150,000 troops on the eastern border of Ukraine, loaded with tanks and assault planes.
Naturally, he had the world’s attention as the Ukrainian leadership and their Western allies, including the United States, tried to guess his intentions.
These have likely consisted of testing the new Biden administration and pushing it to be easy on sanctions.
The plan was to give President Biden another headache – just as he began to deliver on his promises to punish Moscow for election interference, aggression in Ukraine, hacking into American organizations, poisoning and the arbitrary imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who dared to challenge Mr. Putin’s grip on power by denouncing his corruption.
This effort turned against him.
Not only has the United States doubled the sanctions by finally adding some of the oligarchs closest to Mr. Putin to the list of Russian officials and organizations sanctioned, but also the United Kingdom.
Admittedly, the sanctions per se have not yet proven effective in inducing Mr Putin to change his belligerent behavior.
But this time around, the US response to Mr Putin’s transgressions takes more effective forms that could turn the tide and make Ukraine a major headache for him, following Ukraine’s adoption. Security Partnership Act of 2021.
Reintroduced in March, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 21.
More importantly, the measure is to allow up to $ 300 million in Ukraine’s military funding – including for lethal military assistance – the expedited transfer of military surpluses to the country, and $ 4 million per year. to train its military officers.
It also includes a bipartisan amendment to provide $ 50 million in non-military aid to Ukraine as well as provisions on sanctions against entities helping Russia build the lucrative NordStream 2 pipeline to transport more natural gas into the country. ‘European Union.
Of course, $ 300 million is enough just to buy 3 1/2 F35, while Ukraine needs billions of dollars in advanced defense systems to be able to inflict serious damage on the Russian aggressor.
But it is a start.
Congress would be wise to understand that the sooner it allows such an investment in Ukraine, the more lives and money it will save. Hope the European Council too.
Mr. Putin has demonstrated his ability to quickly mobilize and displace a military force capable of mass invasion of any country in NATO’s backyard. The de facto dictator can easily and quickly start over at any time, even if he keeps the promise to withdraw those troops from the Ukrainian border.
Ukraine has long pressured NATO to admit it as a member, but the defense alliance has so far been reluctant to speed up the long process of extending its membership to the United Nations. ‘Ukraine, without openly denying him one.
NATO membership would virtually shield Ukraine from Russian aggression, but would also require all member countries – including the United States – to treat such an act as a war against all of them as well.
Of course, Ukraine’s membership in NATO would increase the stakes for the United States and other alliance members in Ukraine.
The alternative, however, can be worse.
This is because Ukraine recently made a disturbing announcement through Andrij Melnyk, its ambassador in Berlin. In an interview with a German radio station, he said that unless Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, it might consider reacquiring nuclear weapons.
In the early 1990s, Ukraine had the world’s third nuclear arsenal – a holdover from Soviet times
In 1994, Ukraine transferred the arsenal to Russia, in return for assurances from the United States and the United Kingdom – and ironically from Russia as well – to ensure the security of Ukraine, as reflected in the Budapest memorandum on security guarantees.
It is high time we gave these assurances.
Mike Sigov, a former Russian journalist in Moscow, is an American citizen and editor of The Blade.