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President Biden is showing woeful leadership on Ukraine lately
Patrick Asare -- Author of 'The Boy from Boadua' Patrick Asare -- Author of 'The Boy from Boadua'
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Wyomissing, PA
Sunday, April 14, 2024


When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, President Biden promised to “do whatever it takes” to defend Ukraine and ensure that Russia wouldn’t win its war of aggression. He quickly marshalled resources and pulled NATO together to offer assistance to Ukraine. That unity, and heroic Ukrainian resistance, prevented Russian forces from taking Kyiv and possibly conquering Ukraine.

After that initial laudable performance, President Biden’s actions and decisions on the war have to be seriously questioned. He has refused to provide the long-range weapons that the Ukrainians have repeatedly said they need to fend off Russia’s relentless attacks. His reason is that he doesn’t want the war to escalate. But while openly signaling his limits, Putin has been pulling every weapon from his arsenal to demonstrate that he is not someone to be negotiated with. He is prepared to take Russia down with him if that is what it takes to achieve his victory in Ukraine. American dithering has emboldened not only Russia, but our sworn enemies such as Iran and North Korea.

Lately, Biden has been hiding behind right-wing Republicans in Congress, using their refusal to pass the $60 billion Ukraine aid package to excuse his abdication of responsibility. No issue requires an Oval Office address to explain to the American people more than the Ukraine war does. Judging by the thousands of comments I have read online that say that what is going on in Ukraine is none of our business, it is quite clear that a substantial majority of Americans have absolutely no idea that we pressured Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons in 1994 in exchange for security assurances.

Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world when America asked them to send their weapons to Russia as part of the global nuclear nonproliferation effort. A number of commentators have said over the years that Ukraine was too poor to be able to maintain the arsenal if it had kept it. I have never bought that argument. North Korea shows that there are nations that will let their citizens go hungry by diverting resources to their nuclear weapons programs. Given what the Ukrainians are facing now, that is perhaps a sacrifice some of them would have been willing to make to safeguard their freedom.

As an American, I am frankly embarrassed watching our current lax attitude on the Ukraine issue. We are the ones who put the pressure on Ukraine to denuclearize and promised to defend them if it ever became necessary. Now we are standing by unconcerned while Europe is showing the leadership that should come from us. The European Parliament, at the urging of the former prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt, has refused discharge of the EU Council’s budget until European leaders send additional Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine. 515 members of the parliament (MEPs) reportedly supported that decision, with only 62 voting against.

According to Verhofstadt, there are about 100 Patriot defense systems lying around in various countries in Europe. He thinks the continent can easily afford to provide the three that Ukraine is asking for to protect its people and critical infrastructure from heavy Russian bombardment. Given that Europe itself is not currently at war, no one could argue against his position. Those systems must be sitting in warehouses collecting dust, while Ukrainian citizens are being killed and their energy infrastructure is destroyed.

Following the suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Syria that killed a number of senior Iranian military officers two weeks ago, Iran vowed retaliation. It launched a wave of drone and cruise missile attacks on Israel yesterday in apparent response, with reports indicating that up to 300 missiles were involved. President Biden issued a statement after the Iranian attack in which he said the following: “At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week.” The statement went on to say that “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.”

It was quite infuriating to read that statement. Clearly, we have the capabilities to help the Ukrainians intercept these same cruise missiles and drones that the Russians are launching at them. Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, is being reduced to rubble while we close our eyes to it. The Ukrainians have demonstrated that they have the courage to take the fight to the Russians and push them off their land. They don’t need our military involved, just the weapons and they will do the job themselves.

We have a longstanding commitment to defend Israel so coming to their aid in their hour of need is understandable. The Ukrainians have every right to ask: But what about us? What dignified answer do we have for them?

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