Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s terms for negotiating with Russia an end to the barbarian’s invasion of is nation begins with the barbarian being driven completely out of Ukraine. Which raises a question that shouldn’t even be a question.
[P]ushing Russian forces out of the entrenched positions they hold in more than 15% of Ukraine’s territory will require an even greater flow of military support—possibly more than the West is willing and able to bear.
This timidity is especially rampant in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told The Wall Street Journal last Monday [4 December] that the US would support Kyiv in recovering territory Russia has grabbed since launching its large-scale invasion on Feb. 24, suggesting that Washington might not back Ukraine militarily in retaking areas that Russia seized in 2014, including the Crimean Peninsula.
Other Ukraine allies are adamant that Kyiv must win back all its lands.
Those others are correct, and it’s especially embarrassing that our own administration doesn’t understand that. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström put the matter succinctly:
Anything less than a Russian defeat in Ukraine will embolden Moscow and other authoritarian powers[.]
Those other authoritarian powers include the People’s Republic of China and Iran. Encouraging the PRC puts the Republic of China at direct risk as PRC President Xi Jinping has said openly and often that he intends to absorb the RoC into the body of the PRC, and at gun point if necessary. The mullahs of Iran will be encouraged to push their domination over Iraq, and they’ll be encouraged press their Yemen war even more zealously to weaken Saudi Arabia and then to dominate that nation. Which puts Israel at deadly risk.
Those aren’t the only costs, either. Russian President Vladimir Putin has often said that Ukraine isn’t really a nation; it’s part of Metropolitan Russia, and he intends to erase that nation and absorb it. He’s also said he intends to recreate the Russian empire, which puts the Baltic States, Poland, and the nations on the western shore of the Black Sea at risk. Even what used to be the German Democratic Republic will be at risk. All that’s required is the barbarian’s victory in Ukraine. Even his merely holding the 14 February already occupied oblasts would only encourage him.
Go back to the PRC. Xi’s successful conquering of the RoC would cement his control over the South China Sea and all of its fisheries, undersea oil and natural gas fields, and all the rare earths on the sea floor. It also would give him control over the sea lines of commerce on which the Republic of Korea and Japan utterly depend—and through which at least 40% of the economic value shipped to the US sails.
Biden and his affiliates need to find some backbone vis-à-vis Ukraine. The problem here is, in the end, not a matter of cost—the cost of failure is far greater, and it includes the non-economic cost of the erasure of at least two independent nations from the Earth.
The problem here is the degree of political will.