Biden effectively abandoned Ukraine after increasing the odds of a Russian invasion by leaving Russia with the impression that Ukraine might someday be added to NATO — which angered Russian ruler Vladimir Putin — and by encouraging Ukraine not to concede Crimea, a region that Russia seized from Ukraine years ago, and that no one expected it to ever return.
Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is completely unjustifiable, and should be punished with sanctions — but that doesn’t mean it was inevitable.
It might have been forestalled if Ukraine had made a few concessions Russia badly wanted — such as Ukraine pledging to remain neutral rather than joining NATO, and formally ceding the Crimea region that Russia seized from it years ago and annexed. If Ukraine had done these things, the Russian public would have been so hostile to the idea of invading their fellow Slavic country Ukraine that even the bossy Russian President Vladimir Putin would have hesitated to do it. (Thousands of Russians are publicly demonstrating against the invasion, despite the risk of being arrested, and even more would have opposed the invasion if Ukraine had extended an olive branch to Russia, making an invasion even more politically costly to Putin).
These concessions would also have assuaged Putin’s ego and given him a win that would have boosted his popularity at home.
But Ukraine didn’t make these concessions, because it relied on false assurances from the Biden administration. Months ago, the Biden administration falsely suggested it would back up the Ukraine with real military aid and sanctions in the event of an attack. Ukraine thought that would prevent and deter an attack by Russia, even if Ukraine made no concessions.
But it didn’t. Russia called Biden’s bluff, knowing full well that Biden wouldn’t impose meaningful sanctions on Russia if it invaded Ukraine.
And Biden publicly made clear recently that it had been a bluff, pulling the rug out from under the Ukrainians after months of encouraging them not to make any concessions. A month ago, Biden said there wouldn’t be big consequences for a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine. Biden openly removed U.S. troops from Ukraine two weeks before the attack, provided little aid to Ukraine, and exempted key Russian sectors like oil and aluminum from U.S. sanctions. And some types of U.S. sanctions won’t be effective for long, because some commodities the U.S. refuses to buy due to sanctions will just be sold to the Chinese instead.
If Biden had intended to do this little to help Ukraine, he should have told Ukraine in advance, so it could seek to bury the hatchet with Russia. But instead, Biden encouraged Ukraine not to make concessions, then abandoned Ukraine when it was invaded for standing up to Russia.
Biden’s behavior was like egging someone on, and telling them to stand up to the biggest bully in town — then turning and running away when the bully starts beating them to a pulp, after promising to stick up for them.
Biden was willing to fight — to the last Ukrainian! His motto might as well have been, “Let’s you and him fight!” He bravely turned and fled.
Seeing Biden’s cowardly unwillingness to help the Ukrainians we promised to help, will the Chinese now invade and seize Taiwan? They sent airplanes over Taiwanese airspace the day after Russia invaded Ukraine.
There is no reason Ukraine has to belong to NATO to begin with. Finland is not in NATO, and has been a free nation for generations, despite bordering Russia. It was neutral, and had good relations with the former Soviet Union. Ukraine could similarly be neutral, and Ukrainian neutrality has been a repeated request of Russia that it has articulated both before and after the start of the invasion.
Japan and South Korea are not in NATO, but everyone understands that attacking them could bring U.S. retaliation. And NATO never offered Ukraine membership anyway. So why couldn’t Ukraine have just told Russia months ago that it will never join NATO, and will remain neutral like Finland? And formally ceded Crimea to Russia? Formally ceding Crimea to Russia would not have made much difference in practice, because it has been Russified and economically integrated into Russia, and no one expects Russia to ever give it back to Ukraine.
Russia would never have invaded Ukraine if Ukraine had nuclear weapons. That would be too risky.
But Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, because the U.S. assured it that America and Europe would protect it from invasion. As a result it gave up its nukes, during the Clinton Administration. But the Clinton administration should have anticipated that the U.S. would not have the will to live up to those assurances. After all, the U.S. didn’t stop Russia from invading neighboring countries during the Cold War, such as Hungary in 1954. Maybe the Clinton administration knew that the U.S. would never risk going to war with Russia to protect Ukraine, in which case, the assurances were basically a lie by the Clinton administration.
Three decades ago, the newly independent country of Ukraine was briefly the third-largest nuclear power in the world.
Thousands of nuclear arms had been left on Ukrainian soil by Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in the years that followed, Ukraine made the decision to completely denuclearize.
In exchange, the U.S., the U.K. and Russia would guarantee Ukraine’s security in a 1994 agreement known as the Budapest Memorandum…. they were told at the time that the United States and Western powers — so certainly at least the United States and Great Britain — take their political commitments really seriously. This is a document signed at the highest level by the heads of state. So the implication was Ukraine would not be left to stand alone and face a threat should it come under one…..there was even a certain sense of complacency on the Ukrainian part after signing this agreement to say, “Look, we have these guarantees that were signed,” because incidentally, into Ukrainian and Russian, this was translated as a guarantee, not as an assurance.