Speaking to a room full of Democratic donors on June 10, President Joe Biden explained that when US intelligence sources told Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky the Russians on its border were preparing for an invasion, the Ukrainian “didn’t want to hear it.” The president’s statement could not be further from the truth. The only government that closed its eyes to a Russian invasion was Biden’s. Clearly, the White House made policy decisions that put the Eastern European country in a vulnerable position to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Talking about the attack on Ukraine, Biden said, “Nothing like this has happened since World War II. I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain he [Putin] was going to go in, off the border. There was no doubt.” But evidence of Russia’s intentions was undeniable, and NATO and Ukraine knew what was coming.
There was an immediate reaction from Kyiv on Biden’s flagrantly false statement. “Volodymyr Zelensky’s aides have hit back at Joe Biden’s remarks that the Ukrainian president ‘didn’t want to hear it’ when US intelligence alerted him that Russia was preparing an invasion and had called it ‘absurd,'” Stuti Mishra reported in Britain’s Independent. “In addition, if you remember, the president of Ukraine called on partners to introduce a package of preventive sanctions in order to encourage Russia to withdraw troops and de-escalate the situation. Here we can already say that our partners ‘did not want to hear us,'” responded Sergei Nikiforov, Zelensky’s spokesperson.
The quantity of Russian infantry, tanks, helicopters, and armored vehicles around Ukraine grew monthly from March 2021 until the invasion in February 2022. The European Union, NATO, and the United States did nothing until Putin’s forces crossed borders from Belarus in the north and Russia in the east. Throughout that time, the Ukraine president persistently warned that an invasion would result from the Russian troop buildup. As for the Biden administration, faced with Moscow’s warlike posturing on Ukraine’s borders, the National Security Council put a hold on critical anti-tank weapons and other military support just when they would have been most effective as a deterrent. From June to November 2021, Biden withheld the aid package, foolishly believing the Kremlin’s assurances that it would draw down its forces on the Ukraine border. A year ago, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Paul McLeary wrote for Politico:
“The Biden White House has temporarily halted a military aid package to Ukraine that would include lethal weapons, a plan originally made in response to aggressive Russian troop movements along Ukraine’s border this spring … But officials on the National Security Council ended up putting the proposal on hold after Russia announced it would draw down troops stationed near Ukraine and in the lead-up to President Joe Biden’s high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
It is true that, in Biden’s tenure, national security policy has been built on what his administration wishes were true. The weapons denied to the Ukrainians for five months were short-range air defense systems, small arms, and javelin anti-tank missiles. Now we know these were critically needed at the launch of the invasion. But Biden’s team consistently failed to recognize the threat posed by Russia. “Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears late to the party in realizing Russia likely has designs on reoccupying Ukraine as well as other eastern European states that are now US allies and friends. This despite the fact that the Kremlin’s persistent aggressive acts on the borders of its neighbors have been going on for some time,” Liberty Nation reported in November 2021.
Few serious countries failed to recognize the signs. Putin published a 5,000-word essay in July 2021 explaining in detail his rationale for invading Ukraine eight months before sending his forces over the border. The only world leader confounded about the 100,000 combat troops surrounding Ukraine was Biden. For the White House to publicize the notion that the Kyiv government was confused about what was about to happen is the purest lie.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.