In a short television address and three-question Q and A with the White House press corps, Joe Biden brought the American people up to speed on new aid initiatives for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. President Biden began his statement on Ukraine by providing a laundry list of the most current initiatives the US is taking to provide military aid to the courageous Ukrainian armed forces and citizens. By supporting the Ukrainians and imposing sanctions, Biden explained he wanted to “hold Putin accountable for this brutal and bloody war.” The Russians have withdrawn from besieging Kyiv and refocused their efforts to “seize new territories in eastern Ukraine, and we’re in a critical window now of time where they’re going to set the stage of the next phase of this war,” the US chief executive explained. Kremlin’s invaders are now concentrating on the Donbas region and Mariupol, requiring more tailored US and allied weaponry.
The president’s words set the stage for his description of the military aid the US is providing. In addition to approving $800 million in arms sent to the Kyiv government previously, Biden is authorizing another $800 million. “…[W]eapons they need to defend their nation. Last week I signed an $800 million package of security assistance to Ukraine that included new capabilities like artillery systems and armored personnel carriers. Equipment that is “responsive to Ukraine’s needs and tailored to support the intensified fighting in the Donbas region,” the president said. Following a short geography lesson about the flatness, “it’s not in the mountains,” of the Donbas for which US weapons are suited, Biden announced a new tranche of $800 million “to further augment Ukraine’s ability to fight in the East,” including “heavy artillery weapons, dozens of howitzers, and 144,000 rounds of ammunition.” Tactical drones are also part of the new package of equipment.
Because the president has reached the end of his authority to draw down US warfighting equipment inventory to send to Ukraine, Biden explained he would ask Congress to pass supplemental funding to continue security assistance to the Kyiv government. The president wants Capitol Hill to act quickly, so there is a uniformly consistent stream of equipment. With Moscow’s ongoing brutalization of the Ukrainian people and its soldiers, even a short break in equipment flow could spell disaster.
The accompanying graphic extracted from a Kiel Institute working paper shows the amount of financial, humanitarian, and military aid that has been sent to Ukraine by the country since the unprovoked Russian invasion of its neighbor. The US, to its credit, has been far and away the most generous. When converted to dollars, the US has combined military and humanitarian contributions to Ukraine of over $8.1 billion.
On the humanitarian front, the US will provide an expedient pathway for refugees to enter America. There is already a rapid process for bringing in 100,000 Ukrainians desperate to escape Putin’s brutal treatment. Additionally, as part of US initiatives to blunt Russia’s appetite for continuing its unprovoked devastation in Ukraine, Biden also announced a further sanctioning of Russia’s economy. Following many European Union countries, “We are also continuing to rachet up the pressure on Putin, to further isolate Russia on the world’s stage…Today I’m announcing that the United States will ban Russian affiliated ships from our ports, as they did in Europe,” Biden asserted. The overall impact of President Biden’s address was positive in stressing America’s strong support for Ukraine’s President Zelensky and the incredibly brave Ukrainian people. However, from a long view, the US president’s statement is not without cause for critics to raise important issues.
Following the press conference, Karl Rove, in an interview with Fox News, raised the obvious shortfall in the Biden administration’s late-to-the-party response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Remember last June before an international meeting with Putin, President Biden paused US military assistance to Ukraine and did not begin to renew it until November,” Rove explained. That was five months when the US could have been building up the Ukrainian military to be a more effective bulwark against Russia’s invasion and continuing devastation of the Ukrainian homeland that has taken place since February.
The failure of the US to recognize the peril Ukraine was in and the potential for the crisis the Biden administration must deal with now didn’t start last June. “In an act of what some would call desperation, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has, ‘called on NATO and key member states to hasten his country’s membership in the western military alliance,'” Liberty Nation reported over a year ago. No one on the White House national security team can claim they did not see Moscow’s intentions becoming a reality. The fact the US is responding now is positive but is it too late.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.