The obsession with their January 6 insurrection narrative has virtually driven coverage of Vladimir Putin’s dirty little war in Ukraine from the news. It seems that the further left the news platform, the less you get updates on Ukraine. That means MSNBC gives almost no time for the war. They have their spin on the Select Committee show on a permanent loop. FOX provides the most coverage of the war, with CNN falling in between. (The same is true of the border crisis, crime, and Hunter Biden, but that is for a future commentary).
Putin was counting on the United States – and the west in general – to curb its enthusiasm. That is why periodic updates are important.
In terms of the action on the ground, I am sad to report that Russia continues to make progress in eastern Ukraine. Prior to the war, Putin had control of the separatists’ movement in the east. It was limited and confined to a small region of the Donbass. Today, that red portion of the map is several times larger and Putin has taken control of Ukraine’s access to the sea – either with troops on the ground or ships at sea.
Putin has continued his bombardments of civilian targets in cities throughout Ukraine. That has earned him worldwide condemnation, but no reprisals or actions that would force the Madman of Moscow to cease the war crimes.
The Ukraine military has done a masterful job of thwarting Putin’s plan for a quick occupation of the entire nation. They have had inspiring moments – such as sinking the “Moscow,” the flagship of the Russian fleet, and strategic strikes inside the Russian border. In many ways, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a fool of Putin.
In addition to ground gains, Putin has essentially gotten control of Ukraine’s greatest resource and its greatest international influence – food, specifically grain. Without food from Ukraine, parts of Africa will fall into famine and starvation – potentially killing millions.
Putin has literally stolen millions of tons of Ukrainian corn and wheat. Some of it he shipped to Syria to bolster his power in the Middle East. He has also travelled to Iran where he received a promise of hundreds of military drones – a potential gamechanger on the ground in Ukraine. That is a blatant violation of the international sanctions imposed on Russia – but do not expect the United States, the UN, NATO or the European Union to do anything about it.
Kyiv and Moscow have been able to achieve an agreement to allow international shipments of grain. Though the food will be due to the work of the Ukrainian farmers, the recipients will know that it is Putin who is enabling the shipments and will reap the benefits.
However, despite all the symbolic victories by Ukraine and harsh words for Putin, the war is not going well for the good guys. In a previous update on Ukraine, I said that Kyiv was losing the war. That is even more true today. It may be in slow motion, but the trajectory has not changed.
Part of the reason is that the United States has operated under a policy of never winning a war – at least not since World War II. American war policy and execution has been largely driven by the pinstriped folks at the Department of State. Their weapons are talks, sanctions, and international agreements. They meet dangerous aggression with pieces of paper and ineffective rhetoric.
Had the United States responded properly and effectively to Putin’s saber-rattling and military build-up, the war in Ukraine would be over by now – maybe not even begun. Rather than lead the world in a slow-paced war of attrition, President Biden should have taken bold counteractions at the onset. Rather than be cowed by Putin’s threats, we should have been intimidating him – and if need be, fight him.
We should have kept our troops in Ukraine – and even built up those forces as Putin brought his military to the border. We should have been pouring military equipment into Ukraine – including fighter jets. We should have declared a no-fly zone. We should have convened an emergency session of NATO to consider Ukraine’s request for membership.
We should have hit Putin with maximum sanctions at the onset — as Biden had told the world we would – instead of piddling them out when each new round of sanctions failed to dissuade Putin.
The United States and the west have repeatedly said that Putin cannot … CAN NOT –be allowed to win this war – but so far has done little to prevent him from doing so. Yes, we have sent military equipment and money – but always less than requested and less than is needed. The United States blocked the shipping of fighter jets that Poland had agreed to provide. We initially refused to send “offensive” weapons – and when we did, we demanded assurances that they would not be used to hit targets inside Russia.
Some argue that standing up to Putin would have set off a nuclear world war. I do not believe that for a minute. Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) evolved out of the post-WWII arms race. Putin hinted that he no longer embraced that concept – but despite his strategic threats, I am sure he would not want to see Mother Russia destroyed – and him converted into a pile of ashes. The West let the guy with the weakest hand bluff his way to victory. It is the same approach Putin has used in other parts of the world – successfully.
So, now that Biden and the feckless leaders of the major NATO member-nations have allowed Putin to invade and make progress in his ambition to reconstitute the old Soviet Union, what can be done? Do we just let Ukraine lose the war slowly – or do we reverse the situation?
We should advise Putin that the United States and the anti-Putin coalition of nations is demanding a full withdrawal from Ukraine – and we must do it convincingly. We should immediately provide Ukraine with sufficient jet fighters to control the skies. We should have no limit on the number of offensive weapons we provide Ukraine – and no restrictions on their use.
We should warn Iran against providing those drones to Russia – and intercept them as contraband if the Mullahs persist. Yes, that means sinking ships or shooting down aircraft.
We should push the UN into declaring Putin a war criminal. Russia has veto power in the Security Council, but not in the General Assembly.
There is a lot more that could be done. But it will all take strong, decisive, and powerful leadership by the United States. But I suppose that is too much to hope for with Biden-the-Weak in the Oval Office.
I know some will call me a warmonger. But in fact, I hate war. That is why I prefer to end them quickly. Isn’t it ironic that those on the left who claim to hate war the most are the very folks who prolong them – allowing millions to die?
So, there ‘tis.