Another White House Blunder on Ukraine

By Stephen Bryen

Jen Psaki, the White House spokesperson, said on Thursday, March 3rd, that the US is providing intelligence to Ukraine to help them target Russian troops and military equipment.  This revelation demonstrates just how dangerous the White House has become, inviting Russian retaliation for something that, if we did it, we should be doing secretly.

There is a difference between supplying weapons to a friendly country and directly helping that country in a war to target the enemy.  That makes you a party to the hostilities.

Americans, of course, almost universally support Ukraine and want it to drive out the Russians who have invaded sovereign Ukraine territory.  And everyone in the US is appalled about Russian forces targeting civilians, and by so-called Russian (and Russian Chechen) death squads who are out to murder Ukraine’s political and military leaders.

From the beginning had Biden made it clear we would support Ukraine militarily in any invasion of its territory, there is a good chance Putin would have backed off.

Biden not only failed to do so, but his weakness in the face of a major challenge opened the door for Putin’s attack.

But now that is water over the proverbial dam.  Biden screwed up, saying all we would do was sanctions. Before the invasion he stepped up arms deliveries to Ukraine, which only told the Russians they had better hurry and invade before the price would be too high and their losses too great.

Even then the Russians have encountered surprising, stiff and gallant resistance from Ukrainian forces. But how long Ukraine can stay in the fight we just don’t know –no one does.

Russian leaders also have been making claims that are increasingly wobbly and unjustified, saying they are clearing Ukraine of Nazis and then saying the biggest Nazi of them all is the United States.  Both Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov know that these claims are nonsense and that even the Russian people, who have profound reason (after 20 million dead) to hate the Nazis, know these claims to be false.

In fact the potential for revolt in Russia is at an all time high.  The full impact of what has befallen Russian troops has yet to reach home, but despite Russians attempts to block social media, internet and news outlets, Russians know their way around censorship mechanisms, and they also know when news is shut down their government and army is misbehaving.  

One of the most callous moves by the Russian army is to prevent their soldiers coming home in body bags.  So they have sent in mobile crematoria, to turn their dead soldiers into ashes that can be scattered to the winds.  Cremating dead soldiers before they can be returned home to their families is a crime that will not escape Russia’s public.

If Biden wanted to do something useful he could calmly refute the Russian claims.  President Emmanuel Macron has talked to Mr. Putin as recently as today (March 3rd, 2022), and he not only came away empty handed but he told Putin to his face that he should not “lie to himself.”

And Biden could also talk about the behavior of Russian forces, the tragedy for civilians, the scale of both Ukrainian and Russian losses, and how the Russian people are not being told the truth.

But we have a President who is, at best, incapable of rising to the right level.  He is no Churchill, or Reagan, and certainly no Lincoln.  Nor does he have the guts of a Zelenskyy.

China has been urging the Russians to back off and cut a deal with Ukraine.  The Chinese are not humanitarians.  They are afraid that the outcome of Russia’s invasion, even if Russia “wins” is negative for China because the US will re-militarize and target China.  Moreover, if Europe gets into a general war as a result of a Ukrainian collapse and humanitarian disaster, China will lose its markets and its power too. 

America surely wants Ukraine to win, but we should keep our lips zipped on how we are helping Ukraine militarily while telling the Russians it is time to stop the attack.

It is one thing to screw the Russian economy or sanction its leaders.  It is another to speak directly to the Russian people and turn them against Putin.  Instead of the White House foolishly revealing dangerous secrets, it is time to reach out to the Russian people.