As Russia continues to level Ukrainian cities in order to ‘liberate’ them, President Joe Biden has been back and forth, back and forth during weeks whether he will properly arm Kyiv in his fight against Moscow. At least he finally (apparently) fell on the right side of a key question.
In his New York Times published this week, Biden said it “will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and ammunition that will allow them to more accurately strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”.
His henchmen later clarified that this meant sending four sophisticated medium-range rocket systems (plus ammunition) that would dramatically increase Ukrainian artillery range, as part of a new $700 million package.
The prez also insisted on Ukraine’s promise to use arms only to defend the country, not on targets in Russia. That hasn’t stopped Moscow from making noise about “expanding the war,” but disturbing threats are a specialty of the Kremlin.
A bigger issue is that, despite Biden’s vow to help Ukraine “fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest position possible at the negotiating table” (a disturbing clue), the Pentagon says it will take at least three weeks to get the advanced systems (and the troops trained to use them) on the battlefield.
We understand that Biden has to make delicate decisions: the risk of escalation is real, even if it is smaller than what the Russians want everyone to think.
But the fact remains that US delays and prevarication have cost Ukraine not only brutal territory to retake, but also blood, as Ukrainian citizens and soldiers are paying the price with their lives.
Vladimir Putin hasn’t blinked yet. Neither can the US president.