Zelenskiy will travel to NATO to garner support for Ukraine’s membership.

Zelenskiy will travel to NATO to garner support for Ukraine's membership.

Zelenskiy will travel to NATO to garner support for Ukraine’s membership. Joe Biden, do you really want to be known as the president who let Ukraine be defeated?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, NATO allies will gather in the Lithuanian city of Vilnius for a historic meeting that will focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continuous aggression in Ukraine; thus, this is a pertinent issue to ask while preparations are made.

NATO members, under the leadership of Vice President Biden, ought to make it simple for Ukraine to join the alliance when hostilities end. If the Ukrainians grab the opportunity now, they may be able to achieve victory by the end of the year.

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For the counteroffensive to be successful in Ukraine, now is also the time for Biden to announce that the United States will speed up the delivery of long-range missiles and F-16 fighter jets.

However, as of this writing, it appears that Biden will waste the opportunity, and none of the aforementioned will occur. During a webcast last week, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst warned that “very thin gruel is likely in Vilnius.” Putin will be reeling from a failed mutiny attempt by one of his closest pals, and Biden and NATO will be showering him with gifts if this happens.

Biden can yet change tack and shock us, but time is running out. Here are the most important things he can do during the summit to help put an end to Putin’s conflict:

I totally support a Kyiv victory.

Make it clear that the United States and NATO support a “victory” for the Ukrainian government that entails the return of all Ukrainian territory that Russia formerly occupied, including Crimea. We are with Kyiv “as long as it takes,” according to the White House, but “takes for what?” is never explained. Why not just publicly declare our support for the Ukrainians until they achieve victory?

provide ATACMS now Declare that the United States will provide ATACMS long-range missiles to Kyiv immediately. These missiles are the most important factor in determining whether or not Ukraine’s counteroffensive will be successful.

Despite the fact that Trump has made it obvious he will cut off arms to Kyiv and write a surrender agreement with his chum Putin, Biden deserves credit for sending massive amounts of U.S. military and economic aid to Ukraine and effectively pressing partners to contribute more. The White House’s continued failure to approve ATACMS, though, is puzzling. They’re just lame excuses. The United States has a large stockpile of these missiles and could easily provide them to Ukraine, which has promised not to deploy them against Russian territory. With even a small number of the long-range missiles, Ukraine could strike far behind enemy lines, blocking Russia’s access to Crimea.

The White House has approved the shipment of controversial cluster bombs to Ukraine. Kyiv has a dire need for these munitions due to a lack of artillery rounds, and their employment on the battlefield is not against international law. On the other side, Russia has been committing war crimes by dropping cluster bombs on civilian areas of Ukraine (I personally witnessed this when I visited a hospital in Mykolaiv to care for those injured when Russian forces used these weapons near a bus stop). But nobody seems to care that Moscow is illegally using them.

However, the issue still remains as to why Vice President Biden has approved the use of cluster bombs but not the long-range missiles that could drastically alter the course of the conflict before the summer is up.

NATO’s former commander, retired U.S. Air Force general Philip Breedlove, indicated that if ATACMS were deployed, it might have an impact within a week. What, then, could possibly be keeping the White House from acting?

F-16s, please get here faster.

Proclaim that F-16 training for the Ukrainian military will be accelerated in both Denmark and the Netherlands and that the United States and its European allies will speed up the delivery of aircraft. Despite the readiness of the Danes and the Dutch, U.S. leaders have been doing the exact opposite, delaying training until fall and delaying jet deliveries until winter, well after the counteroffensive has begun. Since the F-16s are American-made, the Europeans need the go-ahead from the United States before taking any action.

Once again, the lag is mysterious. It pushes Ukrainian forces to advance without appropriate air support over seemingly endless fields that are severely mined, resulting in heavy casualties. Breedlove remarked, “The United States military would not go to war without air power or long-range ammunition.” The question then becomes why the White House insists on imposing this doomed strategy on Ukraine.

Putin should be warned not to destroy a nuclear plant.

Take the helm of NATO and send a unified public message warning Putin not to bomb the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility. If Putin were to use a tactical nuclear weapon, make it plain that NATO’s (non-nuclear) retaliation would be just as rapid and severe.

Putin’s threats to use tactical nuclear weapons are empty, and Biden should know that by now. There are no plans for a third world war. However, Moscow has warned on multiple occasions that it may blow up mines it has planted near the Zaporizhzhia site and place the responsibility for the resulting disaster on Kiev. Putin employed the same strategy when Russia destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam and falsely accused Ukraine of being responsible. NATO members should have warned Putin not to destroy the dam, but they did not. They can’t risk repeating that blunder at the Zaporizhzhia facility.

Create a plan for Ukraine’s entry into NATO

After the violence stops, Biden will lead a summit where Ukraine will hopefully be offered membership in NATO. A status for Ukraine short of genuine NATO membership would have been imaginable if Putin hadn’t invaded for a second time. To stabilize Europe, however, Putin must be made to see that he cannot just devour his neighbors. Otherwise, he’ll hold on to his imperial ambitions and pose a threat to other countries in Eastern Europe.

A Russian “victory” would be disastrous for NATO, and Biden must know this. Putin can win without occupying all of Ukraine. If he bombs Ukraine into economic ruin, the West will eventually grow weary of supporting Kyiv, or, failing that, Trump will come back to the White House.

The people of the Baltics and Eastern Europe, who endured terrible oppression under Soviet authority, are aware of this threat. They will argue with Biden that standing firm against Putin’s threats is preferable because the former poses a larger risk of escalation.

Ex-Ambassador to the US Ygimantas Pavilionis informed me over WhatsApp from Vilnius: “We hope Biden will offer a clear road to Ukrainian membership because, gentlemen, if he doesn’t, we’ll be the next [victim] in the Baltics. Inaction would send a strong message to Xi Jinping that he can act similarly in the Indo-Pacific.

The ambassador continued, “Send a message to Moscow,” addressing Biden personally. Make it absolutely clear that Ukraine will be invited to the 2024 NATO summit in Washington, D.C. You can put an end to the conflict in Ukraine if you make that strategic choice. Weak and aware that the West has an endgame strategy, Putin will capitulate.

“If you don’t make that decision,” Pavilionis warned. You are taking us back to the pits of hell.

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