By Marco Levytsky
Ukraine’s much anticipated counteroffensive is moving forward steadily, but very slowly causing consternation among its allies.
As the Washington Post reported on August 17, the U.S. intelligence community assesses that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will fail to reach the key southeastern city of Melitopol by year’s end which would mean Kyiv won’t fulfill its principal objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea in the foreseeable future.
“The grim assessment is based on Russia’s brutal proficiency in defending occupied territory through a phalanx of minefields and trenches, and is likely to prompt finger pointing inside Kyiv and Western capitals about why a counteroffensive that saw tens of billions of dollars of Western weapons and military equipment fell short of its goals,” stated the article.
Indeed, a CNN poll released on August 4 found that a majority of Americans now oppose more US aid for Ukraine in the war with Russia. Overall, 55% say the US Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine vs. 45% who say Congress should authorize such funding. And 51% say that the US has already done enough to help Ukraine while 48% say it should do more. A poll conducted in the early days of the Russian invasion in late February 2022 found 62% who felt the US should have been doing more.
The poll also found that U.S. opinion is sharply divided among partisan lines with 71% of Republicans saying that Congress should not authorize new funding while 62% of Democrats say it should. This is an astounding turn of events for the party of Ronald Reagan, but that’s because it has been hijacked by Donald Trump who venerates Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and pledges to end the war in 24 hours. How will he do that? By capitulating to all of Putin’s demands and acquiescing to Russia’s permanent annexation of all occupied Ukrainian lands in exchange for a promise of future peace from Putin the entire world knows Russia will never keep.
This makes it all the more imperative for the war to end as soon as possible. But the only just conclusion to this war is a Ukrainian victory which results in the withdrawal of all Russian forces from all sovereign Ukrainian territory as delineated in the 1991 borders.
Any peace agreement that involves territorial concessions by Ukraine means:
* Hundreds of thousands of lives will have been lost in vain;
* Russia will be rewarded for its unprovoked and illegal invasion proving to other brutal regimes that might makes right and international law is unenforceable;
* Russia will go unpunished for its innumerable crimes against humanity;
* Russia will not be held liable for the hundreds of billions of dollars damage it has inflicted upon Ukraine;
* Global nuclear proliferation will get a major shot in the arm because a country which voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal was turned into a sacrificial lamb on the altar of appeasement.
What’s more, Ukrainians are not just fighting for their own survival. They are not just fighting for the survival of Europe. They are fighting for the survival of democracy around the world.
But they are fighting a nuclear power which has more than three times the population and no compunction about sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to die on Ukrainian soil if that’s what it takes to secure its objectives. Ukrainians, meanwhile, are fighting this battle with both hands tied behind their backs. They are reliant upon Western democracies, particularly the United States, for virtually all of their military supplies. But the weapons they receive come with restrictions. Most shockingly, instead of being supplied with the means to actually defeat Russia, Ukraine has been provided equipment that, at most, affords it only a very limited ability to defend itself. For example, Ukraine’s ability to shoot down every missile and armed drone Russia sends its way — and Russia has sent thousands so far — is hopelessly inadequate to the task. It should surprise no one, therefore, that Russia has been pulverizing Ukrainian cities into rubble for 18 months now while Ukrainian forces have been unable to do much more than stand back and watch. Even in Ukraine’s largest and most protected cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa, Russian bombs, missiles and drones regularly inflict significant damage to civilian infrastructure and bring death to many innocent civilians. What Ukraine desperately needs, and has needed from the outset, are fighter jets (F-16s) and long range missiles (ATACMs) that would extend its reach to all parts of the Black Sea and into Russia itself in order to destroy the bombers, war ships, naval facilities, ports and airports, and land-based missile batteries with which, and from which, Russia daily inflicts such horrific devastation upon Ukraine.
This less than fully committed U.S. approach to assisting Ukraine was condemned in an August 13 opinion piece for the Kyiv Post by former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov who has become one of Putin’s fiercest critics.
“Even at this late hour, the same politicians and generals (who ignored Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008) not only refuse to stop Putin’s war on the free world, they hold back Ukraine from fighting for its own land while they secretly try to negotiate backroom deals with the Kremlin. They restrict the weapons Ukraine may have and how they may use the ones they give.
“Just this week, the Washington Post reported that after months of delay, the F-16 training for the first six Ukrainian pilots will not be completed until next summer! I could not believe the number at first either. NATO is training six pilots. Not 600. Not 60 or 16. Six.
“If this is some sort of sick joke, it is not funny. Children are being killed. Every single day brings horror stories of new terrorist attacks by Russians just across the border. While the Biden administration enforces the Kremlin’s arbitrary rules of warfare upon Ukraine for fear of ‘escalation,’ it allows the Kremlin to escalate the campaign of genocide and terror with impunity,” he wrote.
It is grossly unfair to use the slow progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive as an excuse to capitulate and impose an unjust peace agreement upon this long-suffering country. Throughout the entire period of Russia’s full-scale invasion Western support has been incremental. That needs to be reversed. Ukraine needs many more fighter planes to counter Russia’s air superiority and many more long-range missiles to strike Russian territory – not to terrorize Russian civilians but to destroy the equipment with which, and the sites from which, Moscow is launching missiles to terrorize Ukrainian civilians. Ukraine also needs state-of-the-art demining equipment to clear the millions of land mines the Russians have strewn across the occupied territories.
It’s time to stop tying the hands of Ukrainian forces behind their backs. It’s time to give Ukraine all the support it needs to bring this war to a successful conclusion. Because anything short of this will create a global catastrophe.