Guest Essay NYTs By Christopher Caldwell
Select Excerpts Below:
..The United States has helped turn this tragic, local and ambiguous conflict into a potential world conflagration. By misunderstanding the war’s logic, Mr. Guaino argues, the West, led by the Biden administration, is giving the conflict a momentum that may be impossible to stop. He is right.
In 2014 the United States backed an uprising — in its final stages a violent uprising — against the legitimately elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych, which was pro-Russian. (The corruption of Mr. Yanukovych’s government has been much adduced by the rebellion’s defenders,
but corruption is a perennial Ukrainian problem, even today.)
blah, blah Russia annexed Crimea- No. And I’m excluding hyperbole
One can argue about Russian claims to Crimea, but Russians take them seriously. Hundreds of thousands of Russian and Soviet fighters died defending the Crimean city of Sevastopol from European forces during two sieges — one during the Crimean War and one during World War II
In recent years, Russian control of Crimea has seemed to provide a stable regional arrangement: Russia’s European neighbors, at least, have let sleeping dogs lie.
But the United States never accepted the arrangement. On Nov. 10, 2021, the United States and Ukraine signed a “charter on strategic partnership” that called for Ukraine to join NATO, condemned “ongoing Russian aggression” and affirmed an “unwavering commitment” to the reintegration of Crimea into Ukraine.
That charter “convinced Russia that it must attack or be attacked,” Mr. Guaino wrote. “It is the ineluctable process of 1914 in all its terrifying purity.”
This is a faithful account of the war that President Vladimir Putin has claimed to be fighting. “There were constant supplies of the most modern military equipment,” Mr. Putin said at Russia’s annual Victory Parade on May 9, referring to the foreign arming of Ukraine. “The danger was growing every day.”
The rocky course of the war in Ukraine thus far has vindicated Mr. Putin’s diagnosis, if not his conduct.
The United States (and others) started arming and training Ukraine’s military, hesitantly (NOT) at first under President Barack Obama. Modern hardware began flowing during the Trump administration, though, and today the country is armed to the teeth.
Since 2018, Ukraine has received U.S.-built Javelin antitank missiles, Czech artillery and Turkish Bayraktar drones and other NATO-interoperable weaponry. The United States and Canada have lately sent up-to-date British-designed M777 howitzers that fire GPS-guided Excalibur shells. President Biden just signed into law a $40 billion military aid package.
This arming and training was going on in 2014.
Russia is not being stymied by a plucky agricultural country a third its size; it is holding its own, at least for now, against NATO’s advanced economic, cyber and battlefield weapons.
The United States is trying to maintain the fiction that arming one’s allies is not the same thing as participating in combat.
And yet it is exactly the same.
The United States has provided intelligence used to kill Russian generals. It obtained targeting information that helped to sink the Russian Black Sea missile cruiser the Moskva, an incident in which about 40 seamen were killed.
And the United States may be playing an even more direct role. There are thousands of foreign fighters in Ukraine. One volunteer spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this month of fighting alongside “friends” who “come from the Marines, from the States.” Just as it is easy to cross the line between being a weapons supplier and being a combatant, it is easy to cross the line from waging a proxy war to waging a secret war.
Even if we don’t accept Mr. Putin’s claim that America’s arming of Ukraine is the reason the war happened in the first place, it is certainly the reason the war has taken the kinetic, explosive, deadly form it has. Our role in this is not passive or incidental. We have given Ukrainians cause to believe they can prevail in a war of escalation.
Thousands of Ukrainians have died who likely would not have if the United States had stood aside.
The United States has shown itself not just liable to escalate but also inclined to.
For similar reasons Mr. Biden’s suggestion that Mr. Putin be tried for war crimes is an act of consummate irresponsibility. The charge is so serious that, once leveled, it discourages restraint;
Russia has a land bridge to Crimea and control of some of Ukraine’s most fertile agricultural lands and energy deposits, and in recent days has held the battlefield momentum
Ukraine, after a robust defense of its cities, can expect further NATO support, know-how and weaponry — a powerful incentive not to end the war anytime soon.
But if the war does not end soon, its dangers will increase. “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months,” the former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned last week, “before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.” Calling for a return to the status quo ante bellum, he added, “Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine but a new war against Russia itself.”
The United States is making no concessions (At the expense of Ukraine and it’s people)
With time, the huge import of deadly weaponry, including that from the newly authorized $40 billion allocation, could take the war to a different level. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine warned in an address to students this month that the bloodiest days of the war were coming.